Letter from Cindy - New Brunswick
I was also diagnosed with melanoma when I was 37. I caught it early because I knew what to look for. My dad died from melanoma when he was 50, so when I found out I had it I was terrified. I know it was from tanning bed use because none of my 4 siblings have had it, and I am the only one who has used tanning beds. I faithfully used sunblock and was careful not to burn when outside. I wish I had known the risks of tanning beds at the time. I thought I was getting a "safe" tan. When my dad was ill I researched the disease and treatments. In 1993-94, the research showed this disease was most common in farmers in their 40's or 50's who had a lot of sun exposure working outside. Look how things have changed! This is almost criminal - the risk they've put young people in!
Letter from Jan - Wellesley Recreation Department
This past March, the Massachusetts Recreation and Parks Association held its annual conference in Hyannis. One of the informational booths was about the Glenna Kohl Fund for Hope. Glenna's story greatly affected me. I have been involved in lifeguarding since I was 16 years old (and that was a long time ago). I have worked as a guard, taught lifeguarding, been a member of the Red Cross National Faculty, run pools and beaches. It's been a huge piece of my life.
This summer, the Wellesley Recreation Department ran an open water swim at our town beach. We asked people to make donations to the Fund for Hope. I am enclosing what we collected. It's not much, but I hope to make this an annual event with your cause benefitting from it.
My best wishes go out to you as you work to further sun exposure education and melanoma research.
Letter from Joanna
I wanted to send you an e-mail about the article that I read about your daughter in Cosmo Magazine a while back. My name is Joanna and I am currently living in Hawaii but was born and raised on Cape Cod as well. I am currently 28 years old and have been in Hawaii for 6 years now working as a scuba diving instructor.
I spend my days in the sun and also have very fair skin and natural blonde hair. I always knew the sun was bad for me, I never did the tanning bed thing but once I moved to Hawaii I became very careless about sunscreen and spend every day working in the hot Hawaiian sun with no sun protection.
I had NO idea I was at risk of Skin Cancer at this age until I read your article in Cosmo. Everytime the subject came up with friends we all kind of brushed it off and said "yeah we will worry about that when we are 50". Once I read your article I became concerned because I had a mole on my stomach that I didn't think looked good but never gave it any thought because I thought I was to young to get Melanoma. Even after I read your article I tried to put it into the back of my mind with the "it won't happen to me attitude". I thought about your article daily since I read it a long time ago and finally went to see a dermatologist last month.
They took off the mole that I had been concerned about and the biopsy came back as Melanoma. LUCKILY I have caught it at the earliest stage possible and I have one more surgery on Monday to go through and it will all be done with. It didn't have the chance to spread anywhere and all I will end up with is a 5 inch scar across my stomach.
I wanted you to know that your story about your daughter saved my life. I had NO idea I could get skin cancer at such a young age and never would of gone to the Dermatologist if I hadn't read your story. It probably would of been to late by the time I finally caught it in 5 or 10 years down the road.
Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope you know that you saved my life and hopefully many more to come.
Keeping you in my thoughts!
Letter from Ashley
You won't recognize my name or know who I am, but I can say I am a 26 year old female from Ontario, Canada that was truly touched by your daughters story. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to send this email to you, but ever since reading the story published in Cosmopolitan that surfaced this morning on a website I was searching I can't seem to let it go. I imagine it has a lot to do with our similarities, as a 26 year old adult, who has spent many Summers lifeguarding, foolish days suntanning working on that perfect 'glow' and has always been health conscious I find the similarities uncanny. Not to mention, I too had a mole removed as a young teenager that was determined to be benign. I suppose to date, I've really been lucky. I have also been guilty of using tanning beds (although I have tried best not to make it a habit) in preparation of those 'important' events like a vacation, prom, etc. and can solemnly swear that after reading your daughters story I will NEVER step in one again. I have forwarded this story onto friends and family in hope of spreading the word. Your daughters story has left a footprint on my heart that I'm sure will never be erased.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
Letter from Kayse
My name is Kayse and I am a 35 year old mother of two and registered nurse. I had a mole that had bothered me for some time but got frequent reassurance from co-workers that it "looked normal". I wasn't convinced. However, I continued to tan (even though I knew better) and put off going to the doctor. One day I picked up Cosmo and read your daughters story. I spent a considerable amount of time crying for a beautiful life lost. It was that very moment that I decided to stop tanning and make an appointment. The doctor was "concerned" with the mole BUT "would be very surprised if it came back as melanoma". A week later they called me and told me it was Stage II Melanoma. As I type this, I am still recovering from a very painful surgery. However, my chest x-ray and lymph nodes came back clear! Sharing your daughters story, I am convinced, saved my life! I probably would have continued to put it off, and as we know with melanoma time can be of the essence.
I am donating to your organization TONIGHT and encouraging all of my friends and family members to do the same. In addition, I am sharing your daughters story along with mine. I am an educated woman in a health care profession who KNEW better and didn't make the right choices. I have found through my experience people just don't understand how serious melanoma can be. I thank you so much for sharing your story and educating the public. It was your story that encouraged me to do something NOW. God bless you and your family. My mom, husband, daughter, son, friends, and myself thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Letter from Sarah
My name is Sarah and I went to high school and was on the crew team with Glenna. Please let me start of by telling you what a wonderful, beautiful and special person your daughter was. I think about her and your family every day.
I was diagnosed with melanoma in April of 2005. I was on spring break my senior of college and noticed a small freckle on my left forearm. It didn’t appear unusual, but was slightly raised and for some reason I had a strange feeling about it. After returning home from vacation, I went to the health center of my college to get their opinion. They told me it was a freckle that probably just came out in the sun. For the next few weeks, I kept thinking about the freckle and still felt uneasy. I went back to the health center and asked for a dermatologist referral. They were hesitant to give me one but eventually did. I went to the dermatologist and she suggested I watch spot over the next six months and note if there are any changes. Although the spot did not have any abnormal characteristics, something about this still did not settle with me and I asked her to please take it off. A few days later the dermatologist called and informed me that it was in stage II melanoma.
A few days before my college graduation, I had surgery to remove the melanoma. They were able to remove everything with the surgery and no further treatment was needed. I have had two other moles removed since then both came back with abnormal cells, but not melanoma.
The summer after my surgery, I had a call from Glenna. She had heard from someone about my experience and wanted to reach out to see how I was doing. We kept in touch after that and she would check in from time to time to see how I was doing.
Letter from Tiffany
I knew Glenna through lifeguarding at the Town of Barnstable and always enjoyed working with her. She also taught swimming lessons to my younger siblings, and they absolutely adored her. I was just heartbroken to hear about her what she went through and will always keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. I share Glenna’s story with all my friends and encourage them to have regular exams with a dermatologist. When I went in for my yearly skin check at the dermatologist today in Houston, I mentioned I was inspired to come in after reading Glenna’s story in Cosmo and that I knew her through lifeguarding on Cape Cod. My dermatologist had the article posted in her office and explained that she shares Glenna’s story with any of her patients who are still hooked on tanning. Especially with teenage girls who think that having a tan year round is the worth any price. I just wanted to let you know that even down here in Houston, Texas, Glenna’s story is having an impact and helping to educate others.