Melanoma Monday

The American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May–Melanoma Monday. Its simple purpose is to increase public awareness about Melanoma. Melanoma is a very aggressive form of skin cancer and occurs when uncontrolled growth of pigment producing cells spread rapidly to other areas of the body. Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, but if not detected early it is 75% more deadly.


  • Over 2 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year.
  • One in five Americans will contract skin cancer during their lives.
  • While many common cancer rates are falling, the melanoma rate continues to grow at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers. Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45%.
  • One bad sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of melanoma later in life.
  • Those who use tanning beds a handful of times per year in their youth risk up to a 75% higher likelihood of developing melanoma in their lifetimes.

No tan is worth your life!

What can you do today?

  1. Find a free skin cancer screening in your area!
  2. Learn and practice healthy sun-protection habits–everyday! A few easy ones to remember are; seek shade during 10am-4pm when the sun is at its highest point, wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, gear-up with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and uv-protective clothing.
  3. Conduct your own regular Skin Cancer Self-Exam:



4. Wear traditional black or…


Currently, there is a lot of controversy over what color to wear today to honor those battling Melanoma and our Melanoma Angels. Some people will choose to wear black (the traditional color of Melanoma awareness) and some people will choose to wear orange. Wearing orange is the color being promoted by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)  for their SPOT Orange on Melanoma Monday campaign. For those who traditionally honor their loved ones with black it has come as an insult to the Melanoma community, but the AAD is hoping that the bright orange color will really call attention and bring awareness to a disease that has claimed so many lives. It is your choice to wear black or orange, or both!

 Bringing awareness to the signs and prevention of Melanoma and skin cancer is the ultimate goal. 


Prevention News: Teens Create A Sunscreen Reminder


These two New Zealand teens have created a visual reminder to reapply sunscreen in hopes that their efforts will raise awareness about skin cancer and Melanoma.  Danielle Watt and Sarah Mount are participating in a school program called Young Enterprise. Taking sun safety into their own hands they created the Exposure Band, which looks like a rubber watch. The Exposure Band is a sensor that changes color when the wearer needs to apply more sunscreen. When the wearer applies sunscreen to their skin they also apply the same amount to the face of the band. As the sunblock wears off of the skin and the band the Exposure Band changes color (from white to bright yellow) alerting the user that it is time to reapply! The bands come in 7 colors and are made for kids and adults. For now these bands are only being sold on their Facebook page. The teens will be donating the sales to the Skin Cancer Foundation. (Source: Brisbane Times)

This cause hits close to home because they have both known someone diagnosed with Melanoma and live in a place where skin cancer is the most common cancer. In New Zealand, new skin cancers total about 67,000 per year, compared to a total of 16,000 for all other types of cancer. There is a one in 17 chance that a person from New Zealand will develop Melanoma. It is not just affecting older people, but it is quickly becoming a young persons disease–Melanoma is the most common type of cancer for 25–44 year old males (17 deaths in 2004) and 15–24 year old females (12 deaths in 2004). (Source: Science Learning)

Many people believe that putting their sunscreen on once a day will protect them from skin damage, UV exposure and ultimately skin cancer. This is not true. Sunscreen must be reapplied at least every two hours, less when in and out of the water. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, UV protective clothing and avoiding the peak hours of the day are also other ways to protect your skin from sun damage, sunburn and skin cancer.

Wearing Exposure Bands would be a fun way to keep track of sun exposure and a subtle reminder to reapply sunscreen.  Children would especially benefit from this product; giving them independence in their own sun safety with less nagging from Mom to put on more sunscreen!

Would you wear one?

Soldiers Reprimanded for Accidental Sunburns

Operation Iraqi Fredom

Marcie Birk, a Health Educator  with the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine reported on recreational and  occupational exposure to the sun. Occupational sun exposure increases a persons risk of skin cancer  by 43-77%.  Many soldiers are usually exposed to harmful rays all the time,  by default of their occupation. Soldiers can be exposed to many hours of UV radiation during unit and individual training. They are encouraged to take the proper sun safety precautions as the general public; to use a sunblock with an SPF 30+ and reapply every two hours, and to wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Some people still will let their pride and stubbornness get in the way of healthy sun protection habits. Here is a list of excuses that are commonly heard…

Excuse: “Sunblocks smell flowery and feminine.”

Answer: By unscented formulations. They are just as effective without the scent.

Excuse: “The oily base makes my skin feel greasy. ‘

Answer: Try out other brands to find what feels right to you.

Excuse: “They make my hands slippery.”

Answer: Try a sport sunscreen. They are designed to absorb quickly.

Excuse: “When I sweat, the stuff runs into my eyes and stings.”

Answer: Use a stick sunscreen on your forehead and around your eyes. Never put sunscreen directly on your eyes.

But, what happens if they do get burned?

J. Solis (U.S. Navy) said, “For us, we don’t get sunscreen provided by the command. We have to get it ourselves. I used to get in trouble all the time for sunburns when I was stationed in Hawaii. Now a days people don’t really get in trouble for sunburns while being in uniform.”

These instances occur in the United States as well as other countries.  The Canadian Military has a statute for dealing with severe sunburn. One Canadian soldier recalled being a student on officer training during the summer of 1990. At the end of the formal training and before the graduation the training center put on a huge sports day called Exercise Spartan Warrior. The competition uniform for the day was  combat boots, trousers, and t-shirts. The Canadian soldier says he slathered himself in the military issue sunscreen (SPF 8) and competed out in the sun all day until the end of the competition. He admits the day after he was so burned on his arms and the back of his neck that he had to report to the Medical Inspection Room where he was diagnosed with 2nd degree burns. He was then told by the duty medic that because the burns got to 2nd degree he would have to be investigated for a summary charge of “Self-Inflicted Wound”. Luckily, for the soldier it was proven that he had “indeed used the supplied sunscreen and had not inflicted himself with the wound and was not negligent in protecting himself.”

How can soldiers protect themselves?

  • Use a sunblock with an SPF 30+ and reapply every two hours
  • Try to stay covered if out in the sun for more than 30 minutes at a time; wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants.

How can the military can help?

  • Provide a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+
  • Make it mandatory /provide UV protective clothing

What can YOU do to help?

  • Collect sun protection products by asking people to donate in support of our troops! 

support out troops


Tan Jabs; Harmful not Helpful

With an increase in research and media attention on the harmful consequences of sun exposure and tanning bed use there has been the adaption of a potentially harmful tanning solution. The tan jab. Tan jabs are tanning injections and supplements. They are most commonly called Melanotan II or the “Barbie Drug” because of its alleged ability to induce a fake tan, boost the sex drive and encourage weight loss. In a desperate need to “fit in and be tan” thousands of people (mostly women) are buying this black market drug online without the backing of the FDA.

Melanotan II can be easily bought and boasts all the claims (if not more) of an easy safe tan without the exposure to UV rays. Buyers beware! Don’t be fooled by these words; “Let the magic begin”, “Coloring you beautiful!”, “Liquid sun!” Melanotan is by no means easy or safe.

What is it?

Melanotan is a synthetic hormone that works by increasing the levels of melanin, a natural dark pigment in the skin. Melanin causes the skin to darken or tan. It provides a small amount of protection against sun exposure. There are two types of Melanotan – Melanotan I and Melanotan II. Human trials of Melanotan II began in 2006, but the drug still doesn’t have federal approval which makes the sale and distribution illegal.

melanotan (1)

Is it safe?

In 2007, the FDA reported sending a Warning Letter to a distributor of Melanotan for illegally marketing and selling the drug on their website. They also issued a consumer warning about Melanotan II, stating that:

  • Claims being made cause the product to be classified as both a drug and a new drug, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
  • However, the product does not have an approved new drug application.
  • There is no evidence that the product is generally recognized as safe and effective for its labeled uses.
  • Product’s introduction and delivery into interstate commerce violates federal law.
  • Risks run by patients who use unapproved new drugs could include adverse side effects from inappropriately prescribed medications, dangerous drug interactions, and harm from contaminated, counterfeit or outdated drugs.

Other websites about tan jabs have cited these possible side effects for both Melanotan I and Melanotan II:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Hyper pigmentation
  • White patches
  • Facial flushing
  • Itching
  • Appearance or darkening of new moles

In more detail…

Hyper pigmentation including new freckles/spots or darkening of existing ones.  Darkening, enlarging or new moles.  Darkening of hair, and skin color changes in places where melanin normally concentrates (i.e. genital region, and on rare occasions lips). Some have mentioned white spots that do not tan (some of these resolved themselves, but not all).  

For Melanotan 2,  some have had an undesired increase in libido and erections with a rare report of priapism and panic attacks.  Reports of new moles are more common with Melanotan 2 than with Melanotan.  Some have claimed a link between Melanotan 2 and serious eye and heart problems ,however, the reports are not particularly substantiated (i.e. studies have shown no attachment to heart muscles). 

Some feel that as Melanotan 2 is metabolized, some of it will break down into a compound knows as bremolanitide.  This substance was under a FDA study as an aphrodesiac/treatment for erectile dysfunction.  That study was halted when the substance was found to raise blood pressure.  That may mean Melanotan 2 also has the potential to raise blood pressure making it likely those with high blood pressure should avoid it and people considering using it may want to monitor their blood pressure for negative effects. 

Side effects are enough to just say NO! Agree?

Melanotan didn’t work out as promised for one UK woman looking for a ‘quick cheap’ tan when her

 online shopping trip ended in the local hospital A&E. ‘I didn’t  think about the risks,’ says Terri, a full-time mother to her 18-month-old  daughter, Megan. ‘What happened was terrifying.’

The kit she had bought included syringes and vials of Melanotan, but came  without instructions. After recalling a friend had used something similar, Terri  rang her. ‘She told me to inject myself with one milligram, which I did,’  she says. ‘Looking back, I can’t believe I was so stupid, but I did it without a  second thought because at the time all I wanted was a tan without any hassle,  just like she had.

‘I didn’t see any effects until two days after the injection. Then bizarre  things started to happen. My face became luminous and swollen. It had the  strangest green tinge and became hypersensitive. It was itchy, painful and I  couldn’t bear to touch it.’ Extremely frightened, she went to A&E at  Bolton Hospital and told the doctor what she had done.

‘He had never heard of Melanotan, but went off to research it with their  poisons unit,’ she says. ‘When he came back, his face was grave. I started to  panic.’ Hours later her body was found in a tanning salon booth…

It is not yet known if there is any link between Miss Vickers’ death and the tanning injections.

But on August 17, in an entry on Miss Vickers’ Twitter page, she indicated she had taken the jabs.

She said: “Getting a lovely tan now . . . And I’ve had no no side effects 🙂 Very happy Bunny.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said: “At about 11.10am on Monday 3 September 2012 police in Bolton were called to a tanning salon on Bury Road following a report of a sudden death.

“Police officers attended and found the body of a 26-year-old woman.


In reality there is no safe tan. Not by sunbathing, tanning, or with the use of Melanotan injections. If you really must alter the natural beauty of your skin color then opt for a self-tanner.  Better yet look at yourself in the mirror everyday and tell yourself that you are beautiful just the way you are. Tell your daughters, nieces and girls in your life that they are beautiful just the way they are.

Pale is beautiful! Pass it on! 


Celebrate Bob Marley’s Life with Melanoma Awareness!

Bob Marley was born to his parents as Nesta Robert Marley on this day in 1945. The legendary musician and King of Reggae would have been 68-years-old today. Marley died at the age of 36 on May 11, 1981 when he lost his battle with skin cancer. The skin cancer was first found in 1977 when Marley complained of an injury on his toe that was not healing. He underwent surgery to remove the malignancy from his foot, but because of his Rastafarian beliefs did not heed doctors advice to have the toe completely removed in order to stop the spread of the cancer. Bob Marley passed away at a Miami hospital and left these last words to his son Ziggy,  “Money can’t buy life.”

 Although African-Americans and other individuals of color have a lower risk for skin cancer than people with fair skin, it is important to know that they are also at risk. It is often common for African-Americans and other dark-skinned populations to not catch the signs of skin cancer early. It is also a thought that if you have dark skin then you are more immune to skin cancer. This is not true! Darker-skinned people need to look for changes to their nail beds, the soles of the feet and hands. Checking for changes to your moles and skin every month and getting yearly check-ups with a Dermatologist is very important in skin cancer prevention. 


Scientist Grow Human Skin to Fight Skin Cancer

Scientists at the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter’s Tremough campus have been researching a way to grow skin specifically to tackle Malignant Melanoma. They first announced their intent to grow human skin back in November 2012, saying that it would take at least 6 months or more to get the full clearance on their ground breaking research. Cancer research is often of single cells, but scientists at the Centre believe the best route would be to examine clusters of cells in contact with each other the way they naturally lie in the body.

They hope the research could help to identify people at risk, diagnose more effectively and understand how cancer cells break away from each other to form other tumors in the body.


Malignant Melanoma is the most deadliest form of skin cancer. Anyone can get Melanoma. If found early melanoma is almost 100% curable. When allowed to grow, melanoma can quickly spread to other parts of the body.

The best ways to protect yourself from Melanoma and other skin cancers are to:

  • Conduct a monthly self skin check; watch for changes in moles and see a Dermatologist immediately if you notice any signs of skin cancer.
  • See a Dermatologist yearly, especially if you have pale skin, light-colored eyes, freckles or a history of skin cancer in your family.
  • Seek the shade during peak hours of the day between 10am-4pm
  • Wear SPF 30 sunscreen daily
  • Protect your eyes, neck, face with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear UV-protective clothing




Give the Gift of Melanoma Awareness

Sometimes during the cold winter months of gift giving we let sun protection and melanoma awareness slip our minds. It’s during these non-summer months that we should think of it most and prepare for the sunny days ahead. It is only by advocating and showing support for melanoma research that we can ever imagine a world without melanoma. If you are having trouble buying a meaningful gift for someone who has been touched by melanoma either by a diagnosis or a passing–then please feel free to browse the websites below.

Help us to help others give the gift of melanoma awareness by sharing via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Also, if you know of any other places to purchase melanoma awareness gifts–please share in the comments!

Melanoma Awareness Gift Guide!

  • Bravelets feature the slogan “be brave” on their stylish and simple bracelets. $35 and under


  • Project Hope sells a “hope cures” bracelet that with every purchase will donate $1 to the Uganda Child Cancer Foundation. $15

Melanoma_Awareness_hope cures

melanoma awareness gift basket

Etsy is also a great place to find handmade and original melanoma awareness and cancer support gifts. Big Bead Jewelry sells custom bracelets with $2 of proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.  Kind Living Designs custom makes Pillow People that have been used to preserve the memory of a loved one that has passed away or as a keepsake for a family member that will be missed while serving in the military or away for long periods of time.

personalized pillow people for melanoma cancer

Knot Creations has taken the term survivor to another (awesome) level! You can purchase a paracord survival bracelet that can save your life and inspire at the same time!

melanoma survivor paracord bracelet

Gendrea makes handmade jewelry using swarovski crystals and gemstones.

Hope melanoma awareness necklace

There are many more handmade gifts you browse on the Etsy website. One of our favorites is unfortunately on vacation so I can’t feature Jilly’s Jems’ handmade gifts, but I can tell you more about a very special 2013 The Faces of Melanoma Calendar that you can purchase to help benefit melanoma awareness and to support Jillian’s fight against melanoma. If you are interested “like” Jilly’s Jems on Facebook or email

This calendar is full of touching stories, tips and sun safe facts, as well as ways you can get involved in your community to help raise awareness! Check it out!

faces of melanoma calendar