Shortly after starting as a professor at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith in 2012, Dr. Kerrie Taber was diagnosed with stage II melanoma.
Since then, Taber has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the cancer, which is preventable yet is the only cancer that has seen an increase in diagnoses over the last 30 years. As part of this effort, Taber is coordinating a duathlon at 7:30 p.m. April 22 at Chaffee Crossing to raise money and awareness.
The participants of the duathlon will do a 5K run, 12-mile bike ride, and then another 5K run, and proceeds will go towards the River Valley Skin Cancer Alliance, Melanoma Research Foundation, and the Reynolds Cancer Support House. Participants can compete individually or as part of a two-person relay team.
The event is one of many efforts Taber has led over the years to raise awareness of the cancer. She has spoken to a total of more than 1,000 students in local high schools about skin cancers and how to protect themselves from it, has visited local civic groups, and is the founder of the Arkansas River Valley Skin Cancer Alliance.
“Many people I have talked to about skin cancer and melanoma are surprised by how dangerous it can be to not protect oneself from UV exposure,” Taber said. “Many people hear about skin cancer and how easy it was to treat and that it is not a big deal. That is the cases of basal or squamous cell skin cancer that approximately two million people are diagnosed with every year in the United States. It is the form that is rarely deadly.”
“However, melanoma is very deadly, and it is estimated that over 90,000 people will be newly diagnosed in the U.S. this year,” she continued. “Many of these diagnoses can be prevented through protecting your skin when you are outside throughout the year and by not using tanning beds.”
For more information and to register online, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/311928079284768.