Fight Skin Cancer: Support Miles for Melanoma

08.17.2009 | 4:42 pm

A Note from Fatty: I recently met Ryan Littlefield, owner of Contender Bicycles, arguably the top Pro shop in the U.S. He told me some really interesting — and frightening — facts about cyclists and the amount of sun we absorb. To help raise awareness and funds for skin cancer research, Contender Bicycles is working with the Tour of Utah, top pros, and the U of Utah this week.

It’s a worthy and important cause: as cyclists, we — especially those of us who don’t like sunscreen on the top of our heads because it runs into our eyes — are at risk for skin cancer. And I have a personal stake in this: my sister Kellene — one of my incredible sisters who have been taking care of my family for the past several months — is a skin cancer survivor.

Please read the below release and take a few minutes to donate a few dollars toward this cause. If you ride in the sun, this directly impacts you.

Miles for Melanoma

On August 22, Contender Bicycles and members of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah will be participating in the Tour of Utah’s 1,000 Warriors bicycle race to raise awareness about skin cancer and melanoma, in particular. The cyclists will all be riding in support of Miles for Melanoma and have set a goal to raise $10,000 for the skin cancer research funding program at the University of Utah.

Their efforts go beyond this race. There will be a booth at the prologue of the Tour of Utah were they will be passing out sunscreen samples and promoting sun protection awareness. Also throughout the Tour of Utah, Jeff Louder and Dave Zabriskie will be wearing portable UV monitors on their helmets. This data will be gathered and used for a study at the University of Utah. A similar study looked at UV exposure in professional cyclists during the Tour de Suisse. The personal exposure levels determined during 8 stages were 30X higher than recommended levels. In fact, these UV doses were the highest personal levels reported to date among any sport.

It is estimated that half of all new cancers are skin cancer. This year alone in the United States, more than 1 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed and approximately one person dies from Melanoma every hour.

Please join Contender Bicycles and the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah in their collective goal to raise $10,000 for this very important cause.

If you are interested in supporting this event, you can easily make a contribution. An online contribution can be made by following the steps below where you can either pay by check or with a credit card. All contributions are tax deductible and will be invested in skin cancer research at the University of Utah.

Simply follow these easy steps:

  1. Click here, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link that says GIVE TO MELANOMA RESEARCH (on bottom right).
  2. Select “I want to make a Gift,” then fill in the amount you want to donate.
  3. In the box marked “Special Instructions and Comments,” write “Miles for Melanoma” and list the name of your athlete.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish your contribution.

To track the progress and see who is leading the fundraising effort, click here.


  1. Comment by Melody | 08.17.2009 | 5:24 pm

    Melanoma is definitely a bitch! My ex’s best friend died after years of fighting. He was a really great guy and we all miss him.

  2. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 08.17.2009 | 5:47 pm

    Excellent cause Fatty! Thank you!

    I found arm coolers by DeSoto to wear for the summer (like arm warmers only, um, cool)

    That’s my hot skincare tip for the day.

    Off to contribute…

  3. Comment by Gene | 08.17.2009 | 6:30 pm

    I was diagnosed with Malignant Melenoma when I was 14 and had a huge chuck of meat taken out from the base of my neck that took 87 stitches to close. I dont even think about going outside without 50+spf. Im 35 now and have not had any more occourances thankfully.

  4. Comment by Erine | 08.17.2009 | 6:30 pm

    Fatty- all too often people hear the words ’skin cancer’ and think basal cell or squamous cell- bad in their own right, but not usually as devastating as other, more vigorous forms of cancer. Sadly, this isn’t the case. It’s amazing how many people I’ve spoken to don’t even know what melanoma is!

    My twin brother and I fight melanoma (stage II and stage I, respectively) every day- this fight is one that is near to my heart. I’ll spare you all the gory details but I pray every day that my children don’t develop this, or any cancer. I pray for my beloved twin.

    Important information on recognizing melanoma:

    * Asymmetrical skin lesion
    * Border of the lesion is irregular
    * Color: melanomas usually have multiple colors- but not always!
    * Diameter: moles greater than 6 mm- but most melanomas start out smaller, so be alert when using the ’size’ method
    * Enlarging: Enlarging or changing mole- shifting shape, color, or other changes
    Last but not least-
    * Family History! (My father, grandmother, twin brother and I all have or had Melanoma!)

    There is no substitute for careful examination by someone trained in recognizing skin cancer, nor is there a substitute for doing self exams.

    Thank you for helping bring attention to this terrible disease!

  5. Comment by Beth | 08.17.2009 | 7:21 pm

    The best reason I can give to keep yourself slathered in sunscreen and covered up is that those biopsies HURT…esp at the end of your nose……

  6. Comment by Frank | 08.17.2009 | 7:34 pm

    Being a fair skinned guy myself I always check my skin for changes. Last year around thanksgiving I had a frightening moment when I discovered a dark spot on my leg which doubled in size within two weeks. Luckily a biopsy revealed that the spot was just a blood clot.

    Make sure you check your skin regularly for any changes! Time to make a donation…

  7. Comment by Jennifer | 08.17.2009 | 8:21 pm

    I did the malignant melanoma thing when I was 27. Back then doctors didn’t think young people got it, and the first doctor I saw told me I was too young, the mole was too small, and I was just scratching too much.


    I have a lovely collection of scars now.

    If you are fair, get a yearly exam with a dermatologist. If you have lots of freckles or moles, get a yearly exam with a dermatologist. If you have white “freckles” (where your immune system has already killed off misbehaving melanocytes, leaving your skin with no pigment), get a yearly exam with a dermatologist. If you have skin… get a yearly exam with a dermatologist.

  8. Comment by Susie | 08.17.2009 | 10:08 pm

    I, too, am a melanoma survivor…had a 3 centimeter chunk of skin removed from my cheek last summer, and thanks to a wonderful surgeon, it is hardly noticeable…on the surface. But the fact is, I’ve had cancer, and the awareness of that doesn’t go away even if it doesn’t show. I go twice yearly to the dermatologist and will for the rest of my life. But I’m still scared…

  9. Comment by Meaghan | 08.17.2009 | 10:13 pm

    How appropriate. My mom had a lesion that ended up being a very early stage of melanoma (thank goodness it was caught early), and the day of this ride is her birthday. Definitely contributing.

  10. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 08.17.2009 | 11:52 pm

    Hey, I just had two biopsies last week- here’s crossing m fingers I don’t have skin cancer!

  11. Comment by Mike Roadie | 08.18.2009 | 4:23 am

    Get yourself checked out thoroughly by a dermatologist every year!!!!

    Just some advice from Florida….


  12. Comment by Jamie | 08.18.2009 | 8:13 am

    Slip! Slop! Slap!

    Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.

    Australia’s been running that campaign for 20+ years now. A lot (most? all?) of schools won’t let kids out to play at lunch time without some form of sun protection on.

    IIRC, skin cancers are/were the second highest killer of Australians under 25 (after car accidents). One of my best friends from school died when he was 22 from skin cancer that spread. I hate cancer. :(

  13. Comment by Alyssa | 08.18.2009 | 8:19 am

    Fatty, thanks for this post. Melanoma took my cousin last summer at age 36. Before she was diagnosed, I knew next to nothing about this disease. It is a beast that strikes indiscriminately, and people—including cyclists who spend so much time in the sun—need to be knowledgeable and vigilant.

    “If you have skin… get a yearly exam with a dermatologist.” So true!

  14. Comment by Scott Rosenbaum | 08.18.2009 | 8:43 am

    I too am amongst the follicly challenged, who need a little protection on top, but hate the dreaded eye burn.

    I recommend kinesys sun block. Pricey but effective.

  15. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 08.18.2009 | 9:20 am

    Jamie they have recently extended the slip slop slap to include seek and slide. That is seek shade and slide on sunnies as well.
    You are correct it is recognised as one of the most succesful skin cancer campaigns any where in the world and studies have shown when they downsize the campaign skin cancer rises – people have short memories.

  16. Comment by Pinkbike | 08.18.2009 | 9:22 am

    Fatty, thanks for this. I was diagnosed with melanoma at a very young age as well (early 30s) and it was a real wake-up call. Aside from an ugly 3 1/2 inch scar behind my knee, I was lucky with no recurrence so far. It’s a nasty form of cancer and I’ve lost two friends to it. A lifetime in the sun combined with redhair makes me highly susceptible, but even dark-skinned people are at risk -it’s what Bob Marley died from. I just cover up like a Bedouin and hide in the shade. We live in So Cal, and it amazes me how many people still lie out on the beach and get fried. Again, thank you for advocating for awareness and prevention.

    I hope you and your family are doing okay. We think about you all the time and are keeping you in our prayers.

    Fight like Susan!

  17. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.18.2009 | 11:05 am

    Thanks for pointing this out, Fatty.

    Erine, (6:30 pm 6/17/09 reply above) said it all. I was going to say that, so instead just go back and re-read that reply.

    Yes, many skin cancers end up being no more traumatic or dangerous than having a wart or cyst removed. But the wrong kind of skin cancer, if not caught early – and it is easy for a dermatologist to do so – are fatal. And sometimes very rapidly progressing.

    Please wear sunscreen and or uv protection cycling clothing, please be informed and dilignet in self examination, and please make a contribution.

  18. Comment by TigerMouth61 | 08.18.2009 | 11:23 am

    Skin cancer is terrible, but I am confused by whether I will be healthier if I get some sun exposure or avoid the sun altogether.

    The following article flies against the usual recommendations regarding sun and cancer:

    Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

    In this video, Dr. John Cannell — one of the leading authorities on vitamin D and founder and Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council — sheds additional light on what several studies have already confirmed: that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by sunscreens.

    One such study discovered that melanoma patients with higher levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients, and patients who already had melanoma and got a lot of sun exposure were prone to a less aggressive tumor type.

    How can this be? Experts are still recommending caution when going out in the sun, and the science still points to the fact that skin cancer is caused by sun exposure.

    As Dr. Cannell explains, the sun does increase genetic damage in your skin and can cause skin cancer, but nature has designed a clever system to obviate this risk. And by staying out of the sun entirely, you avoid the system nature created to help prevent skin cancer.

    As you probably know by now, vitamin D is formed in your skin from exposure to sunlight. The vitamin D then goes directly to the genes in your skin where it helps prevent the types of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes. Hence, when you avoid the sun entirely, or slather on sun block whenever you go out, your skin is not making any vitamin D, and you’re left without this built-in cancer protection.

    But you’re not only raising your risk of skin cancer by shunning the sun.

    Optimizing your vitamin D levels can help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. And vitamin D does not have just a slight impact on your cancer risk. It can cut your risk by as much as 60 percent!

    Its protective effect against cancer works in several ways, including:

    Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
    Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
    Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
    Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
    To Prevent Skin Damage You Have to Protect Against the Most Damaging Rays

    Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths – UVA and UVB. The difference between them is part of the equation, so it’s important for you to understand the difference between the two.

    UVB can be considered the ‘good guy’ that helps your skin produce vitamin D.

    UVA is considered the ‘bad guy’ because it penetrates your skin more deeply and causes more damage. Not only that, but UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year — unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening, and high at midday.

    If you’ve ever gotten sunburned on a cloudy day, you now understand why; it’s from the deeply penetrating UVA!

    The exposure you’re looking for is the exposure to UVB’s, which are at their greatest during midday, when the sun is at its highest in the sky. This is what Dr. Cannell refers to in this interview when he says you need to expose your skin to the high-noon sun — which is contrary to conventional advice, which says to avoid tanning during “peak” hours.

    You also need to be aware that you need far less sun exposure than you might think to reap its beneficial effects.

    Most people with fair skin will max out their vitamin D production in just 10-20 minutes, or when your skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink. Some will need less, others more. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you will need to optimize your vitamin D production.

  19. Comment by Molly | 08.18.2009 | 11:33 am

    My cousin has stage four melanoma. We raised about $70,000 last year for the Melanoma Research Foundation. We raised money in connection with a group run (a 1/2 marathon in North Carolina) and a huge party afterwards. My cousin — who just turned 40 — ran AND finished the race. Thanks for this post. It is a worthy cause. GO TO HELL MELANOMA (

  20. Comment by Lofgrans | 08.18.2009 | 12:11 pm

    If you don’t know which rider to donate under pick Robert Lofgran. He is part of the Contender team that is mentioned.

  21. Comment by Stephanie | 08.18.2009 | 2:07 pm

    Thanks for posting this!! My soon-to-be brother-in-law is fighting stage 4 melanoma. He’s 40. Statistics don’t give him much of a chance. It breaks my heart watching his family grieving and hoping. I hate cancer.

  22. Comment by Uncle Bob | 08.19.2009 | 4:55 am

    “As you probably know by now, vitamin D is formed in your skin from exposure to sunlight.”

    That is *one* way to get your Vitamin D. Another is simply to eat a proper diet, or at least take a suitable supplement. I’m a bit surprised that Dr. Cannell presents exposing yourself to the midday sun as the only way to avoid Vitamin D deficiency.

    In the industrial world, where most of us spend most of our time indoors, wearing clothes etc. diet rather than sun exposure has long been the key to avoiding Vitamin D deficiency. In my grandparents day, rickets was a serious public-health issue, leading to the introduction of Vitamin D fortified milk and other food products. If you are old enough to remember being forced to swallow spoonfuls of cod-liver oil, at least the foul-tasting goop made sure you got your dose of Vitamins A and D.

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