By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s No Fry Day, a day to remind people to protect themselves against skin cancer. It comes at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, the official kick off to beach season. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has one Delaware families heartbreaking battle.
Michelle Rigney of Bear, Delaware loved to go to the beach and tanning beds.
But her life suddenly changed when she was diagnosed with melanoma.
“How you take a perfectly health 19-year-old kid and watch them die. It’s just, it’s unbearable really. And all of it could have been prevented,” said Sherrill Rigney, Michelle’s mother.
Michelle battled the aggressive cancer for a couple of years, undergoing a variety of experimental treatments hoping to stop the spread. They didn’t work. Michelle was just 22 when she died.
“She said I would have never gone into a tanning bed and those are her words,” said Sherrill.
Children and teenagers who get blistering sunburns more than double their chances of developing skin cancer later. And research has shown people 30 and under are getting melanoma at a faster rate than any other group.
A lot of our sun damage, cumulative sun damage, occurs when we are under the age of 18,” said Dr. Omid Hamid, Oncologist.
After Michelle died the state of Delaware created the Michelle Rigney Act. Teens under the age of 14 aren’t allowed in tanning beds, those between the ages of 14 to 18 need parental consent.
“If people knew the results of getting melanoma they wouldn’t even go in to a tanning bed,” said Sherrill.
For now her mother remembers the good times with her daughter, raising awareness and money for melanoma research through fundraisers.
“I hope I save lives by doing it,” said Sherrill.
Since Michelle’s death the FDA has approved five drugs to treat melanoma. Early detection is critical, which is why it’s important to check your skin, look for unusual moles.