Susan Steel was given a timestamp of 12 months on her life in January of 2008. She was battling melanoma, and at the time she had already completed three years of intensive treatment at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. It is the world’s largest and top-funded melanoma clinic.
Steel is a now a stage IV melanoma survivor. She has endured seven clinical trials and seven brain surgeries and she has been forced to travel out of Chicago more than 50 times to receive critical care. When she and seven other directors founded the foundation Skin of Steel in 2010, they hoped to increase melanoma awareness and change the way people and institutions look at melanoma research. She didn’t want anyone else to have to walk in her shoes.
Skin of Steel now works to raise awareness by educating school-aged children and adults on the importance of melanoma prevention, research and treatment. They have partnered with AIM at Melanoma to fund the first national, collaborative Melanoma Tissue Bank that would include four branches located in Chicago, Pittsburg, California and Oregon. This collaborative effort would give researchers across the country access to the fresh-frozen tissues they need to enhance melanoma treatment and eventually find a cure.
Skin of Steel stood out amongst the other applicants due their ability to raise awareness and fundraise collaboratively within the community.
Skin of Steel By the Numbers:
- One person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes
- Only 6 FDA-approved therapies for metastatic melanoma exist
- The Tissue Bank will gather more than 500 specimens, yielding 50,000 assays for research
- Fundraising goal of $3.5 million will cover three years of Tissue Bank start up and maintenance
Additional reporting by Maura Flaherty.