Mom battling melanoma at 31 believes the tanning bed is to blame - FOX 35 News Orlando

Mom battling melanoma at 31 believes the tanning bed is to blame

Posted: Updated:
Downriver mom Sarah Brandes is battling melanoma. Downriver mom Sarah Brandes is battling melanoma.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

Spunky, full of life and a mother of two, 31-year-old Sarah Brandes is now fighting the deadliest skin cancer -- melanoma.  It started with a small mole.

"My mole was a little bit bigger than a pencil eraser," she said.  "Underneath what they took out was the size of a softball."

Despite several surgeries and harsh medication, the cancer just keeps coming back.

"They removed a big mass from my calf just kind of to try to buy me time a little bit and trying to stop the spread... so I could get on some more medicine," Brandes said.

The medicine is experimental.  Often in younger patients, the cancer is more aggressive, which dermatologist Steve Grekin said doctors aren't used to.

"When I started practicing 20 years ago, we would see three, four, five melanomas in a year.  Unfortunately today, 20 years later, we see three, four or five every week," Grekin explained.

Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for 25- to 29-year-olds.

"Melanoma used to be a disease that affected individuals 50, 60, 70 years of age.  Now we're seeing them 20, 30, 40 years of age, and it's been directly tied to ultraviolet exposure -- tanning beds and lots of unprotected sun," Grekin said.

"To have that golden bronze tan is just not worth dying over," Brandes said.

Having a dermatologist examine your moles with a handheld microscope is one of the best ways to diagnose melanoma.

When looking at your own body, look for asymmetry -- one half of the mole doesn't match the other -- border irregularity, varied color and a large diameter.
Finding it early is key to survival, even though that is not easy.

"I'm not going to give up," Brandes said.  "They tell me that like, oh, this isn't working.  Okay, well, I'll do what I can to find something else to keep going."

Brandes believes it was the tanning bed that caused her melanoma, and, in fact, using a tanning bed can raise your risk of melanoma by 75 percent.  A blistering sunburn can double your risk.  Doctors say don't go to the tanning bed and use sunscreen.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • RECALL: Kraft American Singles Cheese Slices

    RECALL: Kraft American Singles Cheese Slices

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:05 AM EDT2014-09-01 12:05:15 GMT
    Kraft voluntarily recalled 7,691 cases of its American Singles cheese product Friday because an ingredient was stored improperly by a supplier.
    Kraft voluntarily recalled 7,691 cases of its American Singles cheese product Friday because an ingredient was stored improperly by a supplier.
  • Minimum wage hike launches this Labor Day

    Minimum wage hike launches this Labor Day

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:30 AM EDT2014-09-01 11:30:54 GMT
    Minimum wage workers across metro Detroit and the rest of the state are getting a small raise this Labor Day.
    Minimum wage workers across metro Detroit and the rest of the state are getting a small raise this Labor Day.
  • All you need to know: Arts, Beats and Eats 2014

    All you need to know: Arts, Beats and Eats 2014

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-09-01 11:28:22 GMT
    Celebrating its 17th year and returning to the bustling streets of Royal Oak from Aug. 29 - Sept. 1, Ford Arts, Beats Eats presented by FirstMerit Bank will entertain thousands of visitors from across the region with its outstanding music line-up, stellar arts programming, mouthwatering selection of food, and a number of new attractions this Labor Day weekend.
    Celebrating its 17th year and returning to the bustling streets of Royal Oak from Aug. 29 - Sept. 1, Ford Arts, Beats Eats presented by FirstMerit Bank will entertain thousands of visitors from across the region with its outstanding music line-up, stellar arts programming, mouthwatering selection of food, and a number of new attractions this Labor Day weekend.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices