By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in America that’s attacking a growing number of young men and women. Now, a New Jersey man has made it his mission to save lives.
Amanda and Michael Brown had the kind of love story you see in movies. But their love story turned into a journey through hell.
“It’s the hardest thing that a husband can ever go through. She was amazing,” said Michael. He, a member of the band ‘SHA NA NA,’ and Amanda learned a heartbreaking lesson about a strange looking mole.
“I made the mistake of thinking that it was a beauty mark,” said Michael, “and I didn’t know.”
It was melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer when it’s not found early.
“People hear skin cancer and they think no big deal,” said Dr. Lynn Schuchter, an Oncologist with Penn Medicine. “But melanoma is a real big deal.”
Melanoma is now the fastest growing cancer in America. It kills one person every hour. But Amanda and Michael were determined that somehow she could beat the odds. They made a video diary that covered the four year odyssey. But the treatments were grueling and nothing was working.
Amanda tried so hard to stay positive, but the cancer spread and painful lesions were eventually everywhere. She was in agony.
Amanda wanted to warn others through her experience with a book she called “Finding N-E-D, no evidence of disease.” Those were the medical words she never heard, that would have meant she was cured.
“I don’t want anyone to go through this,” said Michael, “because it’s so preventable.”
Amanda was just 31 when she died in 2006. Michael, who lives in Atlantic City, had to finish the book alone. It was just published.
In addition to promoting the book wherever he can, Michael speaks to groups of children getting the word out about skin cancer. And there’s his music. Michael wrote a song for Amanda, cherishing their time together, the good and the heartbreaking.
Michael is also working with the Melanoma Education Foundation. In Philadelphia, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is researching a number of breakthrough treatments.
For more information on melanoma and skin cancer, visit the links below: