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Melanoma Awareness Month: Debra Black Shares Her Story

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May is Melanoma Awareness month and we’re proud to once again partner with The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) in support Melanoma research. For the entire month of May, we are supporting the MRA through a host of exciting initiatives in-store, on our blog, and through our social platforms like TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

Today, Debra Black,  Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of The Melanoma Research Allianceshares her personal story and how The Melanoma Research Alliance is working to cure melanoma…


I’ve always been vigilant about seeing my dermatologist, especially following my diagnosis of “in situ” melanoma (where the melanoma cells are only on surface skin).  When I noticed a bleeding spot on the bottom of my foot and brought it to my doctor’s attention, I was told it was a wart.  After several years of this back and forth, the “wart” was finally diagnosed as Stage II melanoma in 2007.  I underwent multiple skin grafts and a difficult physical and emotional recovery, but was horrified to discover the prognosis for advanced stage melanoma had not improved in over 40 years!

Melanoma incidence is risingit is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the US, especially in young women 20-30.  And the prognosis for those diagnosed with advanced stage disease is often not good. If melanoma isn’t caught early, it can be fatal – one person dies from melanoma every hour in the United States alone. I have been one of the lucky ones – but too many others are not so fortunate. My husband, Leon, and I couldn’t believe these statistics, so we decided to take action and founded the Melanoma Research Alliance.

Since 2007, MRA has distributed nearly $48 million in grants to melanoma researchers at top institutions around the globe. At MRA, we are dedicated to working with all stakeholders to eliminate suffering and death from melanoma. Several MRA-funded projects have attracted additional funding from government and industry, and the organization is becoming a critical partner for large biopharma companies and smaller advocacy organizations looking to accelerate the pace of melanoma research.

Every day I feel blessed to have discovered my misdiagnosed melanoma before it spread to other parts of my body, but I will always have to remain vigilant for possible recurrences. One of the simplest ways to reduce your risk for melanoma is to practice safe sun behaviorsuse a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day, avoid tanning beds, and pay attention to changes in your skin.

We thank our many committed friends, allies, and partners for their support.  Please help us spread the message of sun safety and build on our momentum as we fast-forward a cure for melanoma.