By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On the CBS3 Healthwatch, it’s melanoma Monday. The first Monday in May is designated to raise awareness about the most common form of skin cancer in young adults between the ages of 25 and 29.
It is estimated that one person dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every hour, and that’s mainly because it’s not diagnosed early enough.
It killed Tara Miller, but her legacy lives on. Tara was 29 years old when melanoma took her life.
“Part of making the best of it, is accepting what I can’t control and focusing on what I can control,” Tara said.
Before she died in 2014, Tara created a melanoma foundation, and spoke at the first “Make the Best of it Bash”.
“Incredible how she handled the whole thing with such grace and such courage,” said Tara’s twin sister Lauren.
Lauren says through a year of grueling treatments she always had a sense of humor, wearing t-shirts with funny sayings like ‘this ain’t my first rodeo’, or ‘more issues than vogue’.
“She’s left just such an impact that you know a lot of people don’t get that for 29 years at least I got that time,” Lauren said.
While they spent a lot of time at the beach, Lauren says they always used sunscreen. Tara’s melanoma showed up with a bump behind her ear.
Dr Lynn Schuchter, chief of Hematology/Oncology at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center has a pillow from Tara that says, “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
“This really, I think , captures Tara’s spirit,” Schuchter said. “She was a remarkable woman, incredibly courageous, such a love for life.”
Dr. Schuchter says when detected early melanoma is curable, but it wasn’t for Tara. Even though she received all the advanced treatments available, there are limits, which is why there’s such an emphasis on research.
“We have a lot of new therapies, but for the most part once melanoma travels thru the blood to distant sites it’s not curable.” Schuchter said.
“Although we can’t change the statistics on melanoma, we chose to make the best of it,” Tara once said.
The best ways to prevent melanoma is to protect your skin from the sun, and if you get funny looking moles or bumps that change, it’s best to get it checked out.