Adolescent melanoma is the second most common cancer in young people. It is also one of those that you can see and stop. These are just two facts that The Big Bang Theory cast tell you in their new awareness raising video.
The cast wants you to get screened for this deadly disease, after finding out that a 17-year-old fan died from it. The sad thing is that by getting screened on a yearly basis, teenagers can fight against this. As Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah Fowler on the show, says, put a dermatologist on the list of health care professionals you visit on a yearly basis.
This video has come two years too late for Claire Marie Wagonhurst, the 17-year-old The Big Bang Theory fan who lost her life to the disease. Her mother has since founded the Claire Marie Foundation with her husband, and wants to make sure other young people are aware of the symptoms of the disease. Hopefully they can stop it spreading before it is too late. Wagonhurst only got into the show because of her cancer, and it quickly became a firm favorite.
According to the teen’s mother, Marianne Banister, the message from The Big Bang Theory cast has already “made a huge impact.” The message speaks out to the right demographic, because of the age of most fans of the show. If it doesn’t speak to them, it speaks out to parents of young children who will be more aware to look out for atypical moles. The campaign has now gone global, which is more than Banister could ever want.
Skin cancer is the second most common cancer in young people, and the most common in women between 25 and 30 years old. While it is so common, there are not the same recommendations for screening as there are with the likes of prostate (in men) and breast cancer.
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Unlike many other cancers, there is a genetic disposition to adolescent melanoma, and it can be kick-started due to hormonal changes or other health issues. Wagonhurst suffered from hypothyroidism, which feeds melanoma cells and makes the cancer worse. Despite being routinely screened and her mole looking fine, it took just seven months for the cancer to spread and take over her body due to the hypothyroidism.
Puberty and pregnancy can both lead to the hormonal changes for the cancer to develop. It isn’t necessarily to do with the sun, and wasn’t in this The Big Bang Theory fan’s case. That doesn’t mean teens should ignore the advice about tanning booths, sun, and sunscreen.
The Big Bang Theory cast heard about the cancer patient due to Banister wanting the cast to know about how they made her daughter laugh in her most painful, final days. They heard from a crew member, and felt compelled to create the awareness video. They wanted to do something to help raise awareness to their fanbase, according to Zap2It.
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So far, the Claire Marie Foundation has screened 120 young people. Among them, 20 were told they had precancerous growths. They now have the ability to get the growths cut out and prevent the cancer from spreading. There is hope that there will be more teenagers and young people visiting the foundation and their own dermatologists to get screen for growths. All it takes is the warning sign of a strange mole that they have probably had from birth.
Simon Helberg states that children between the ages of 10 and 19 are the most at risk of developing the cancer. Parents of The Big Bang Theory should make their own children aware and check for changing moles in their children’s bodies.
[Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]