May~Skin Cancer Awareness Month / by Casey Warner

Bob Marley died due to melanoma. He was only 36 years old.  His melanoma started under his big toenail in 1977.  The first doctor that he consulted thought that it was a soccer injury.  After it began to look worse, Marley consulted another doctor who biopsied the spot and discovered that it was melanoma.  The recommendation was to amputate his toe, but Marley chose to have excision surgery instead, during which the surgeon removed the nail and surrounding tissue.  Marley had no further treatment and did well until he collapsed in New York City in 1980.  He was rushed to the hospital and tests revealed that the melanoma had spread to his brain, lungs and stomach.  He refused his doctor's treatment plan and went to Germany to try alternative treatments including exercise, ozone injections and vitamins.  Marley's condition continued to worsen and he decided to charter a plane in order to return to Jamaica.  While in flight, Marley's condition became critical and the plane did an emergency landing in Miami where he passed away.  He never made it back to his beloved Jamaica.  Marley was reportedly only 82 pounds when he passed away.  We share Marley's story every time we teach about melanoma because his story demonstrates that even people with darker skin can get melanoma.  In addition, in those with dark skin melanoma often develops in places that do not get a lot of sun exposure like in the mouth, on the tongue, under finger nails and toenails and on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  RIP Bob Marley.  Just like your music, your melanoma story lives on to educate people about the dangers.