Would You Bare Your Body To Fight Skin Cancer?
WOULD YOU BARE YOUR BODY TO FIGHT SKIN CANCER? We did!
That's us-the staff of Marie Claire-in Times Square, wearing next to nothing to
raise awareness for a cause that concerns...you!
Skin cancer is the second-most common cancer in women ages 20
to 29. One in five Americans will develop it in their lifetime. That means
you're more likely to get this deadly disease than to get hit by a car, marry a
millionaire, write a best seller-or have sex this week. That's why we paired up
with the Skin Cancer Foundation for our "Wipe Out Skin Cancer"
campaign. The deal? We'd donate $100 in the name of every Marie Claire staffer
who arrived at the photo shoot in a swimsuit-and $200 for those who braved it
in a bikini! We passed out 1000 packs of Shady Day wipe-on sunscreen to
passersby, then we asked three women whose lives were touched by skin cancer to
share their stories. Here, what you should know.
"MY FRIEND'S DEATH SAVED MY LIFE!" Michelle, 36, dancer in the Broadway musical Chicago, New York City
TO THIS DAY, I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE that Cathy is my angel. I really believe
she is. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be alive. We were both
musical-theater performers and met when we toured Europe together doing Crazy
for You. Two years after we came back, she was living in L.A. with her husband,
and she got pregnant for the very first time. Cathy had a spot on her face that
she'd had for as long as I'd known her, but it had started to get a little
itchy, so she went to get it checked out. What started as a routine checkup
went terribly awry: That day, Cathy found out she had skin cancer so advanced,
her doctor recommended she begin chemo and radiation treatment immediately. But
she faced a harrowing choice: Begin treatment to save her life-which would mean
terminating her pregnancy- or forgo chemo long enough to give birth to her son.
Cathy chose to have her child. A few months later, she gave birth to a
beautiful baby boy. She started chemo and radiation almost immediately after,
but it was too late. In December 2004, I got a call from a mutual friend:
"Cathy passed away," he told me. Right there, at that moment, I
thought: I know I need to get screened. My mother has told me my entire life to
stay out of the sun. Of course we hear that we should all be getting checkups
once a year, but I always let the year slip by without one. Then my
dermatologist did a scan, and she saw two moles she didn't like- one on my
ankle the size of a pencil eraser, which was two different colors. She took
that off, as well as one on my thigh. "I'm going to send these out for
biopsies. Don't worry," she said. I didn't. A week later, I got a message
asking me to call her back. When I heard it, my heart sunk; I just knew
something was wrong-so I didn't call her back. But then she called back again
the next morning. That's when I found out I had melanoma. I kind of went numb.
"What do I do?" I asked. "Call your family," she said kindly.
My mom took it three times worse than I did. When I told my family I had to
have surgery, they all wanted to get on a plane immediately. Meanwhile, I was
terrified. I'd never been under anesthetic in my life! The surgery-well, I
don't think I heal well. Afterward, my foot looked like Fred Flintstone's. They
had to pull the skin so tightly it compromised my Achilles tendon. It took me
20 minutes to walk one city block. After that, I had to go to physical therapy
for four weeks. I couldn't go up on my toes to dance for another month. And, of
course, being able to dance again was my biggest concern. I was so lucky. I
recovered. I returned to dancing. The biopsy on my ankle came back as stage-II
melanoma, but the disease hadn't spread to my lymph nodes. Now, I am the poster
child on Broadway for skin cancer screening-and I still think about Cathy every