News & Press
A Commitment to Our Community
June 11, 2020 – The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) was founded in 1996 by Diana Ashby, a young woman who was frustrated that, despite significant advances in other forms of cancer, melanoma patients like herself lacked effective treatment options. Her frustration with the status quo became determination to create change, and that powerful legacy lives on nearly a quarter of a century later as the MRF has become the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. But more important than devotion to a disease is our deep commitment to a community. As a national organization, we work with diverse communities across the country and people who are all passionate, dedicated and work tirelessly to advance our mission and educate those around them about the risks of melanoma.
In recent months, our country has faced a series of compounding challenges that have profoundly affected nearly every aspect of our lives and left many with incredible levels of uncertainty, anxiety and even fear. While no one has been completely spared, for the more than 1 million Americans currently living with melanoma in the US – the patients and caregivers we hear from every day – the feelings of insecurity are even greater. Through our recent Cancer Has No Curve campaign, the MRF made a promise to our community that we will remain hard at work each and every day, fighting on their behalf, advancing life-saving research and finding new ways that we can offer our support. To that end, we have been creating immense amounts of content to fill gaps where we would normally hold in-person events and sent out a survey to over 70,000 individuals to help us identify other ways that COVID-19 has impacted their life. This information will help us create more resources to aid in this time of extreme crisis.
Today, we reiterate and strengthen that commitment.
Melanoma is statistically much more common in fair skinned men over 50, but it does not discriminate by age, race, gender, socioeconomic class or creed. In fact, despite representing only a small number of overall diagnoses, melanoma mortality rates are significantly higher in people with darker skin and access to treatment remains a challenge in too many communities across the US. For this reason, MRF awareness campaigns like #GetNaked, #EyeGetDilated and #SeeSpotSeeDoc highlight a diverse mix of patients, caregivers and families and we remain committed to sharing these important stories. In addition to these campaigns, the MRF has its materials available in multiple languages and has conducted outreach and built relationships with advocates and partners who can bring our melanoma education and awareness messages further into new or underserved communities. New online resources dedicated to increasing access and limiting disparities in care will continue to be a priority area of expansion in our Education Institute. If even one person who previously thought they were not at risk for melanoma benefits from these initiatives and it results in a self-skin check or first visit to a dermatologist, it will have been a success.
Most importantly, the MRF is committed to listening. Every new initiative and program expansion started from the same place: the patient voice. Through roundtables, needs assessments, listening sessions and online surveys – or even impromptu conversations at events – knowing what is most needed by our community steers the future direction of our work. Now, as always, we want to hear from you and encourage you to become an MRF advocate. From new areas of research, targeted outreach opportunities, overcoming challenges in accessing a correct diagnosis and timely care and more, your voice can affect positive change for years to come. Age, race, gender, socioeconomic class or where you live in the country should not determine your diagnosis, treatment or melanoma outcome.
We can and will one day live in a world without melanoma. But as we work toward that goal, we are determined to live in a world without myths and misconceptions, disparities in care and outcome inequality.
Thank you for sharing your important perspectives and continued support as we increase our efforts, grow our community and walk together towards a cure for all.
Kyleigh LiPira, MBA