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Saddened By a Melanoma Death

As a skin cancer awareness advocate, I have made numerous posts on my Facebook page about my journey with skin cancer. Some of those posts include photos of the recovery process after surgeries to remove basal cell and squamous cell areas. All of the posts are made to try to help raise awareness about the dangers of over-exposure to the sun and the use of tanning beds.

A Facebook Memory post grabbed my attention

The other day, Facebook Memories showed me a post I had made about a Mohs surgery on my face to remove an infiltrating basal cell carcinoma that was right under my nose. I noticed in the Memories post that around 150 people had shared the post since it was made. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the Shares notification to glance through the names of those who had shared. Some of them were personal friends, while others were people who either follow my Facebook page or had come across the post when others had shared it.

I recognized the name of one of the people who had shared it. While we weren’t Facebook friends, I recalled us messaging previously after she had seen one of my other posts. Her comment when sharing the Mohs-related post on her page was “I’ve followed this page even before we knew how sick I was. Wear sunscreen, stay out of tanning beds, and pay attention to moles and freckles.” I clicked on her profile to see how she is doing now.

One of my Facebook friends had died from melanoma

I was surprised at what I saw. Honestly, more than surprised. It was a gut punch. Her personal Facebook page was now a “Remembering” her page. She died. Her melanoma had spread to her brain and her liver, and then it killed her.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. I know the statistics. Statistically speaking, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially for women. According to the American Cancer Society, once melanoma has spread to other organs, the five-year survival rate is 32%. In 2023, around 97,000 new melanomas are expected to be diagnosed in the United States, and approximately 8,000 people are expected to die of melanoma.1

Keep in mind, it’s not just melanoma. While more rare, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas can also be fatal.

This was a younger person. If I had to guess, I would say she was in her 40’s. She had two kids, school-aged. And she was gone.

Skin cancer kills people

I’ve communicated with numerous community members on the SkinCancer.net site who have lost a loved one to skin cancer. People who have lost their daughter, or son, or mother, or father, or grandparent, or sibling. Skin cancer really does not care how old someone is. It is a myth that only old people get skin cancer.

From the photos I saw on the Remembering page, this lovely lady suffered greatly before she succumbed to skin cancer. She had made an album dedicated to her skin cancer journey, to try to help raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer. My heart hurt for her husband and her kids. She left them all too soon. I said a prayer of comfort for them, because I’m sure this hasn’t been easy.

Please, for yourself, and for those you love, take good care of your skin. Stay out of the tanning bed. Avoid over-exposure to the sun. Having a tan is not worth dying for.

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