Get a skin check, then support skin cancer prevention

Safety in the Sun Run raises both awareness and funds for melanoma research

A Sanford Dermatology doctor and nurse look together at a skin sample under a microscope.

From just one conversation with Sanford Health dermatologist Marcus Frohm, M.D., you’ll be able to tell he loves people.

His love for people and community played a large role in his decision to become a doctor.

Not only does he have a passion for helping patients, but he also cares deeply about preparing future dermatologists.

He’s a mentor at the Sanford USD School of Medicine. So, when a mentee came to him with an idea that highlights both skin care and community, he was all ears.

Run safely in the sun

Meet Halie Mechels. She’s currently in her fourth year of medical school at the Sanford USD School of Medicine and has decided to pursue a career in dermatology. She also was a collegiate track athlete at South Dakota State University.

Get screened: Skin cancer screenings at Sanford Health

Running and dermatology are her passions. She’s been committed to studying dermatology since she was young, when she was diagnosed with cutaneous mastocytosis.

“I had red and brown spots on my arms, legs, chest, and back. So, when I was younger I looked different than everybody else. Knowing that, and looking that way, is what made me more passionate about cutaneous diseases,” she said.

Mechels goes to Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The church is currently sponsoring the Run Project, a challenge for church-goers to find ways to support the community through specific projects.

Some projects have included things like: teacher lounge makeovers, or simply shoveling neighbors driveways.

Mechels had the thought, “what about a fun-run that raises awareness for melanoma?”

So, she approached Dr. Frohm, and Safety in the Sun Run was born.

“This was the perfect opportunity to mesh two passions together and do something fun for the community,” said Dr. Frohm.

Race day

The 5K run is slated for May 22 with the goal of both raising awareness and playing a part to prevent skin cancer and melanoma.

Come race day, free skin lesion checks will be provided.

“You don’t have to run in the race to get a spot looked at,” said Dr. Frohm.

Read more: Melanoma survivor who had cancer at age 15: Save your skin

Attendees can also bank on music, food and prizes.

Mechels said the funds raised from the race will go to placing sunscreen dispensers throughout Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities in high traffic outdoor areas such as parks, fields and trails.

“We’ve got places mapped out for multiple touch-free dispensers. People will have sun protection when they may forget it or might not have it readily available,” said Mechels.

Embrace Church will also match up to $2,000. So, the money raised will go towards both sunscreen dispensers and melanoma research.

Fighting melanoma

Dr. Frohm explains that melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer he and other dermatologists see, and can be the most fatal.

“It significantly accounts for the most skin cancer deaths and is one of the leading cancers in terms of average years of life lost per death from disease. That’s unfortunately because melanoma metastasizes or spreads to other organs at a higher rate than the other common forms of skin cancer.

“This is part of the advocacy. We need education. We need to realize that while a lot of skin cancers we see on a daily basis are very treatable when they’re caught early on, and most melanomas are cured surgically, the ones that aren’t (caught early) can become a very, very big deal,” he said.

MoreKeeping you and baby safe and sunburn free

And, the best way to protect yourself is through sunscreen and sun protection.

He said the best sunscreen “is whatever works for you and your skin.”

“There are so many formulations between sprays and powders. The single greatest carcinogen humans are exposed to is the sun. It creates more cancer than anything else.”

Mechels said she hopes the run will help to raise awareness for everyone.

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Posted In Cancer, Cancer Screenings, Cancer Treatments, Dermatology, Sioux Falls