Rainy Day Doesn’t Deter Walkers – 4th Annual Susan Steel Memorial Fall Walk
October 17, 2019
The rain started falling early on Sept. 29, but that didn’t stop almost 100 walkers from paying tribute to loved ones who’ve lost their lives to melanoma at Skin of Steel’s fourth annual Susan Steel Memorial Fall Walk in Glenview.
The walkers, which included survivors and one recently diagnosed patient who travelled more than two hours to participate, trekked along the West For River Trail, behind JourneyCare.
Almost a dozen teams of walkers raised more than $22,000 for melanoma research and awareness. In addition, Kathy Whitman of the Bob Whitman Research Foundation presented a check for $14,000 to the Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium.
The MTBC was established in 2013 by Susan Steel Ishida of Skin of Steel, a Glenview-based nonprofit organization, and by Valerie Guild of AIM at Melanoma in San Francisco.
Steel died in 2016, but her vision of creating a collaborative tissue bank for research in melanoma has finally come to fruition this year with two branches of the MTBC opening.
University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Cancer Center’s branch opened in April, and in September, the branch at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center started collecting tissue samples.
Locally, Northwestern University’s branch will open soon under the direction of Wilmette resident Dr. Jeffrey Wayne, chief of surgical oncology, specializing in melanoma.
The uniqueness of this international tissue bank, which will ultimately have six branches — four in the United States and two in Australia — is that primary tumor tissue samples are fresh-frozen to preserve the DNA and RNA along with collection of urine and blood samples and full medical history of the patient.
The goal is to collect 500 specimens to better identify biomarkers of the disease and provide answers to questions, such as: Who will get melanoma? Whose melanoma is likely to metastasize? What gene types will respond to which treatments and what order is best?
Answers to these questions will improve the lives of melanoma patients globally.
Melanoma is one of the most complex forms of cancer and has the most mutations of all solid cancers. It’s also one of the fastest-growing cancers in the United States and worldwide. The incidence of melanoma has increased steadily in the past 30 years with over 1 million people living with the disease currently in the U.S.
According to statistics provided by the American Cancer Society, approximately 96,000 new invasive melanomas will be diagnosed in 2019 and there will be one melanoma death every hour in the U.S.
Our SOS Junior Auxiliary members, comprised of local high school students, not only help with fundraising efforts for research, but help spread awareness that wearing sunscreen is one of several daily sun-safe habits for teens and adults.
Members also preach to their peers the warning that “no tan is a safe tan” and tanning beds should never be used. Lastly, they understand the importance of early detection leading to prevention and recommend annual skin cancer screenings with a dermatologist.
When caught early, melanoma is highly curable.
For more information on Skin of Steel or the MTBC, please visit www.skinofsteel.org.