The American Academy of Dermatology declared Monday 'melanoma Monday.'
They're trying to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer. There are plenty of examples to prove their point.
Robin Zimmerman and his wife Bonnie loved camping with their two kids.
They often vacationed in the sun of southern and central Oregon. “My daughter spent alot of time with her making blankets, things like that. During the summer the two of them were inseparable. Always inseparable. Always outside doing yard work,” Zimmerman said.
Near the end of the summer of 2004 Bonnie discovered a spot on her lower back. “We had no idea it was even something that could take your life,” said Zimmerman.
It was melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. “Up to the end we just always thought that, it would turn around, it would, we just never gave up hope,” he said.
Despite four years of treatment, Bonnie died in 2008. Robin is speaking out now in the hope that more people will avoid the sun and get screened for skin cancer.
Dr. Matthew McClelland, a dermatologist with Providence Health, screens as many as 20 patients a day for skin cancer. “Skin cancer is a very common thing. It’s an epidemic in America. There are over three million cases of skin cancer being diagnosed every year," he said.
Dr. McClelland says the cancer often appears out of nowhere and seems similar to other moles until you look closer. “A dark lesion, a lesion that's more than one color, something that itches or hurts, that's the typical picture of a melanoma. Typically a large, dark mole that you didn’t have before," Dr. McClelland said.
He recommends having a partner check your back and areas you can’t see to help make sure you don’t have any new, strange moles.
Bonnie Zimmerman spent some of the best times of her life soaking up the sun.
Her husband Robin now tells everyone he sees to cover up and use sunblock, especially on beautiful, sunny days in Oregon.