About Me: My name is Alexandra Rzepecki and I am a 4th year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. I recently had the opportunity to work on a project under the guidance of a wonderful mentor at Northwestern University that involved raising awareness about early detection of melanoma. Through this experience, I learned a vast amount about skin cancer, specifically melanoma, and uncovered my immense interest and passion in helping to find ways to prevent and treat this fatal disease.
Why did I sign up? Running has always been a personal hobby of mine; it was my answer to any life stressors and has been the perfect outlet during my time in medical school, but never in a MILLION years did I think I would sign up for a marathon. More so, never did I think I would commit to fundraising $2,500 on my own!! To be completely honest, I don't know if I am more terrified of the distance or of my fundraising goal. Both tasks seem equally daunting. However, with my friends' successful persuasion and support, I decided to give the marathon a go! I can't think of a better way to tackle this running challenge while raising awareness about a cause that I am truly passionate about and that has so much potential to help others.
Why Jack's Melanoma Fund? Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and thousands of Americans die from it every year. In fact, every HOUR of every day, one American dies of melanoma. Skin cancers like melanoma are known to be preventable with adequate protection from UV exposure and have a very good chance of being treated if detected early enough. I was shocked upon learning that tanning bed exposure before the age of 30 increases one's risk of melanoma by 75%. 75%!! How is it possible that despite these statistics, it seemed like tanning salons on my college campus always seemed to be filled with eager customers? I was even more shocked to learn that it takes only one blistering sunburn, especially at a young age, to more than double a person's chance of developing melanoma later in life. How many times had I been sunburned playing tennis outside because I hadn't been diligent about reapplying my sunscreen? How often would my dad tell me to wear a hat to protect myself from the sun and to try to limit being in direct sunlight between 10am-4pm? How often would I listen? This seems like such a preventable disease, yet why are we not being as proactive as we should be? Seemingly small tasks--such as wearing sunscreen every day, or finding a few minutes each month to check your skin for new or changing moles--can be extremely beneficial in the long-run. But how can we engrain these behaviors and make it second nature for everyone?
I don't know the answer to such questions, but raising awareness and educating people about melanoma is without a doubt the first step. Then, we should try to integrate health-promoting behaviors into our daily routines. Although I've had many patients tell me daily SPF seems like a pain, I sure think it's a better option than the alternative. I guess the ultimate question is: If you knew there was a way to reduce your risk of skin cancer, would you chose to do it? My answer is absolutely yes, and that is why I decided to join Jack's Marathon Team. Jack's Melanoma Fund envisions a world where every adult and child is aware of the risks of melanoma and takes preventative measures; where those who suffer from melanoma receive comfort and healing; and ultimately, where every case of melanoma will be completely curable. Their mission is to realize this vision by raising funds and providing programs to raise awareness, fund research and promote healing. Please help our vision become a reality and support Jack's Melanoma Fund with me.
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CR Impact Points
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