Skin of Steel in the News

Second Annual Fall Walk Raises $30k

Second Annual Walk Raises $30k for Melanoma Foundation

Glenview Lantern

Oct 9, 2017

Second annual walk raises $30K for melanoma foundation

Trevor Byrnes, Megan Hoying and Natalie Byrnes participate in the second annual Walk of Steel on Oct. 1 along the West Fork River Trail. Sarah Haider/22nd Century Media.

Sarah Haider, Freelance Reporter
2:27 pm CDT October 9, 2017
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Susan Steel — a Glenview resident, mother, wife and friend — passed away after a long battle with melanoma in 2016. More than 10 months later, her greatest battle still carries on, continuing in the footsteps of her loved ones at the second annual Walk of Steel on Oct. 1 along the West Fork River Trail. 
“We gather together to celebrate the lives that melanoma cut short,” Stephen Sullivan, a Skin of Steel board member, told the crowd during the event. “We celebrate the melanoma survivors. We celebrate you and your effort to move forward and, more importantly, to being so supportive of the research efforts underway.”
The walk coincided with what would have been Steel’s 59th birthday and her 28th anniversary with her husband, Masuo Ishida, who also spoke at the event.
One-hundred percent of the more than $30,000 collected from the walk was donated to the Skin of Steel foundation. The nonprofit was founded in 2010 by Steel and her executive board to provoke a “revolutionary personal, behavioral and institutional change in dealing with melanoma” and create the first-ever national, collaborative melanoma tissue bank. The bank will collect biopsied, fresh, frozen primary melanoma tissues, providing the infected skin to advance medical research and improve treatment outcomes.
“It is a big deal,” said Katherine Byrnes, the foundation’s executive director. “We have doubled melanoma diagnoses in the last 30 years. Doubled. Melanoma is a small fraction of skin cancer, but it’s the most deadly. To have 10,000 people die in the U.S. this year, that’s a huge problem. Researching and funding and awareness needs to amp it up.”
Byrnes, who was diagnosed with melanoma in 2006, is a survivor. She became involved with the organization as a board member after being told about its work by Sullivan. She became the foundation’s executive director in Spring 2017. Although Byrnes never met Steel, their common passion for finding a cure connects her to the cause.
“Most people get a diagnosis and they’re like, ‘Eh.’ They don’t want to think about it. They kind of want to put it out of their head. But [Steel] had to live with it and deal with it for 11 years,” Byrnes said. “This [event] represents her because she would have loved for people to come out, and raising thousands of dollars for the tissue bank is amazing.”
Tripp Lane, a member of the foundation’s board of directors, is also an 11-time melanoma survivor. Today, he uses his experience with atypical melanoma to bring awareness of the cancer to anyone who will listen, as well as help others through the diagnosis. Steel’s journey with melanoma became a source of courage for his own.
“Susan was absolutely my inspiration,” Lane said. “She survived 10 years with numerous metastases. Most people don’t survive 10 months, let alone 10 years. She was incredible. It was her courage and determination.” 
Students from Glenbrook South, Glenbrook North, New Trier and Regina were also present to show their support at the walk. 2017 marked the second year in a row that the Glenbrook South girls varsity tennis team committed to the walk. The team coordinated a bake sale at the school, published a Go Fund Me page and collected pledges, raising more than $500 as of Oct. 1.
“Every year we do the Skin of Steel walk because we are out in the sun all of the time, so keeping us safe is really important and I feel like this is a cause that doesn’t get a lot of attention even though it should,” GBS girls tennis captain Rachel Schwartz said. “We are bringing attention to it and showing that we care and we are trying to help out the cause as much as possible.”
Each of the schools that were represented at the walk also have a student that serves on the foundation’s junior auxiliary board, which works together to spread awareness and further the organization.
“This was Susan’s goal, not just a dream,” Lane said. “A dream is a dream, but a goal is a dream with plans, and she always had this goal of starting a tissue bank.”
For more information on the foundation, visit

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John Kirkwood M.D. Honored as Giant of Cancer Care

Skin of Steel is pleased to report that Dr. John Kirkwood (one of our partners in the Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium) has received a prestigious award honoring his clinical research in melanoma.

Business Wire

June 2, 2017


CRANBURY, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–OncLive® is proud to announce the inductees of the 2017 Giants of Cancer Care® recognition program. This year, 12 respected healthcare professionals who are advancing the field of oncology by their contributions in research and clinical practice. The winners were announced on June 1 during an exclusive celebration at the Chicago History Museum.

Michael J. Hennessy Jr., president of Michael J. Hennessy Associates Inc., parent company of OncLive®, said, “Each Giants of Cancer Care® inductee continues to help propel the field of oncology forward through their commitment to innovative and groundbreaking contributions in cancer treatment and research. They provide hope to cancer patients and their families and are an inspiration to the future generations of researchers and practitioners who continue advancing toward a cure for these diseases.”

John M. Kirkwood, M.D., University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania— Melanoma

    John M. Kirkwood, MD, is the Usher Professor of Medicine, Dermatology & Translational Science and director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    • Dr Kirkwood’s pioneering work with biological treatments for melanoma provided the first adjuvant therapy for treating patients with high-risk melanoma in 1996 and he has led immunotherapy development in cancer for the past 45 years, beginning decades before immunotherapy had reached the limelight it has achieved in melanoma and other solid tumors over the past 5 years.
    • He is leading several highly promising clinical trials with cancer vaccines that use biological response modifiers to spur the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy melanoma.
    • He is now pioneering new approaches to the assessment of combinations of recently approved new immunotherapies and molecular therapies that are anticipated to be the focus of the next decade of clinical translational research.
    • In Dr Kirkwood’s laboratory, metastatic and locoregional tumor tissues from patients participating in new combination therapies, neoadjuvant trials, and prevention interventions are examined with a focus on the alterations in immunomodulatory STAT signaling pathways and effector immune responses.
    • He is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, the Society for Melanoma Research, the Clinical Immunology Society, and the Society of Natural Immunity.

Read About all of the 2017 Giants of Cancer Care Inductees Here.

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Chicago Tribune: Susan Steel Ishida, turned melanoma diagnosis into driving cause, dies at 57

By Elizabeth Owens-Schiele
Chicago Tribune
January 26, 2016

Susan Steel Ishida, diagnosed 11 years ago with stage 3 melanoma, pushed for restrictions on the use of tanning beds by minors and started a patient advocacy foundation called Skin of Steel that was dedicated to research and awareness of the disease.

“She was a brilliant woman, very ferocious, really discerning and passionate about making a difference for not only herself but everyone else who was touched by this illness,” said Dr. Martha Twaddle, Steel’s physician.

Ishida, 57, died Jan. 13 of complications from acute leukemia in JourneyCare hospice in Glenview. She was a resident of Glenview.

Read Susan’s full obituary on the Chicago Tribune website.

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