Melanoma Monday raises awareness about the disease that took the life of one beloved South Bend mother

NOW: Melanoma Monday raises awareness about the disease that took the life of one beloved South Bend mother

The first Monday of May is Melanoma Monday—a day recognized by the American Academy of Dermatology to raise awareness about the deadliest form of skin cancer.

While many of us may head out to the beach for some sun this summer, it’s important to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays because too much sun exposure can turn deadly as it cost the life of Dawn Turpin’s mother in 2011.

“This year, it will actually be 11 years since my mom passed. It was a very quick thing, with my mom what happened,” said Turpin.

She first had a mole removed which was cleared at first, but the cancer came back and this time, it was more vicious, spreading to her bones and brain. The doctor gave her a year to live, her family said their final good byes within six weeks. The family had another scare when dawn’s sister, Kara, found a mole with melanoma on her leg in 2020.

“She called me back with the results that it was melanoma and it was really scary because I don’t know what I’d do without my sister,” said Turpin.

Luckily, Kara Edwards’ cancer was removed early on thanks to her frequent checkups and she is now clear and healthy but still gets regular checkups as cancer can sometimes come back within the first five years. But, at just 37 years old, the diagnosis still worries Kara about her own fate after losing her mother less than ten years prior.

“And I was like the only thing that I know of Melanoma is that you die. And I was like, ‘I can’t die, I have a two-year-old,” said Edwards.

Now, Kara and her sister, Dawn raise awareness about Melanoma prevention and education. And each year, they attend a race in their mother’s honor, with the team name, “The Spirit of Roxie,” with the image of something she loved: hummingbirds.

Edwards and Turpin do not want other people to endure what their family has and push for regular checks.

 “It was very scary. I think at that moment, I was like, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family member, mother, daughter," said Edwards. “The sun is literally burning your body, and it’s not just like, ‘oh it blisters and you peel it off and you’re good.’ I’m paying for that now with the everyday fear of ‘what if it comes back.’”

If Kara’s story has you worried, don’t be worried, be wary and mindful of changes on your body.

And if you see a mole, don’t freak out! Do your ABC’s to see if it could be problematic.

Look for A: asymmetry – is the mole misshapen and uneven?

B: border—look for irregularities along the border like jagged edges

C: color –is the mole different colors?

D: diameter—is it larger than 6mm? The size of a pencil eraser

And E: evolving—is the mole changing in appearance, like color, size or texture?

If you notice any of these signs, contact your doctor!

You can read more about Melanoma here.

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