More Than Skin Deep

Photo by John Urban

Photo by John Urban

It's a sad reason to become friends. But each of us has lost someone we love to a ravaging case of skin cancer known as melanoma. I admit, before my younger brother Craig Harasha was diagnosed a few years ago, I knew little about melanoma.

I thought this type of cancer was something you simply found in a mole scan and then had it removed. The frightening truth was that Craig died in less than six months after a scan showed melanoma throughout his body and brain. He was only forty-two years old.

Working outside was Craig's life. It also contributed to taking his life. So before he died, Craig shared some powerful insight, including his hope--that more people would learn about this disease before it took the life of someone they loved.

We talked about the importance of protecting yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and sunscreen; seeing a dermatologist on a regular basis and learning how to check your own skin for any changes; and not being afraid to ask others--your hairstylist, nail technician, massage therapist--to alert you to any differences they may see or feel.

Melanoma is the fastest-growing type of cancer in the U.S. And now more young women are being diagnosed with it. I'm taking Craig's hope and adding my own--a push for education in our area schools' health classes. I believe knowledge about melanoma and sun safety at an early age is the most powerful way to tackle this dangerous killer. It may have made a difference for each of my friends and our own loved ones.

Kathie Rawlsky, whose story is shared here, is on the board of Ann's Hope. Please visit annshope.org for more information.

Teri Barr is anchor for "News 3 at 9" on TVW MyMadisonTV and co-anchors "News 3 at 10" on WISC-TV.

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