NBEW takes a sharp focus on melanoma awareness this Black History Month along with UT Tanya A. Haman Melanoma Research Fund

For decades, some African Americans have believed the myth that they cannot get skin cancer due to the melanin in their skin, a pigment responsible for their skin tone that naturally protects them from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

However, it was pointed out in the Melanoma Research Alliance that even among people with the darkest skin, melanin is still inadequate to protect one from the aging and hyperpigmentation effects of the sun.

 It is true that people of color have a lower risk of developing skin cancer than Caucasians, who are 20 times more at risk; unfortunately, when skin cancer develops in people of color, it is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage, making it more difficult to treat, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.  In fact, Black people “are four times more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage melanoma and 1.5 times more likely to die from melanoma” than white people, duly noted in the observational study, Malignant Melanoma in African–Americans.

To some, it is a surprising fact that cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers according to The American Cancer Society. Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths.  In the United States for 2022, it has been estimated that 42,600 women will be diagnosed with melanoma, 2,570 of those women will die from it.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association pointed out an unsettling discovery: When skin cancer develops in people of color, it’s often in a late stage when diagnosed. This can be deadly when the person has melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread quickly. Treatment for any type of skin cancer can be difficult in the late stages.

This was the terrible fate of African American, Tanya Haman, who at age 44 was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma in 2015; she passed away from the sudden and unexpected diagnosis just two months later.

 Her sister, Tereska James, confirmed that they both were raised with the misinformation that Black people were protected by the melanin in their skin from skin cancer.

Even after her sister’s death, the scenario seemed too unbelievable for Tereska, losing her sister to skin cancer.

However, this fueled Tereska to debunk the skin-cancer rumor; she soon became an advocate for melanoma awareness and prevention thereafter, as quoted in the Melanoma Research Alliance news article.  Tereska’s passion to bring awareness to the masses about the risks of melanoma in people of color was so strong that she created the melanoma-prevention focused, Brown Skin, Too.  Tereska and her family would continue to share Tanya’s story with people, debunking the myth that people of color do not get melanoma.

So, the vision evolved further into the Tanya A. Haman Melanoma Research Fund which was shared with the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Ade Adamson is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor in Dell Medical School’s Division of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery. Dr. Adamson’s research focuses on patterns of care for melanoma, especially among people of color who are often underrepresented in research, which contributes to misunderstandings about risk factors and diagnosis that often delay treatment

 In celebration of Black History Month, licensed Black estheticians and general supporters throughout the nation are helping to raise funds for the Tanya A. Haman Melanoma Research Fund through SpaSho Media, partnered, week-long, online event, 2022 National Black  Estheticians Week (NBEW) from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28.

Licensed esthetician, NBEW founder, and SpaSho CEO, Tiffany Medois said that licensed Black estheticians are eager to inform their clients and acquaintances about the importance of skin health, and skin cancer awareness.

“I and many other Black estheticians feel that Dr. Adamson and the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin’s research on melanoma concerning people of color is imperative,” said Medois, “that’s why we have a keen focus, this Black History Month, for NBEW, on skin cancer awareness.”

Dr. Adewole Adamson will be speaking about melanoma research and the Tanya A. Haman Melanoma Research Fund during the 2022 National Black Estheticians Week on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 12:00 PM EST.

The University of Texas Austin has created a landing page for the Black History Month fundraiser, where donations received will help Dell Medical School and Dr. Adamson break new ground in melanoma prevention and treatment by identifying and closing gaps in care as well as:

Skin Script, ASCP and Sephora have already committed to providing sizable donations to the Tanya A. Haman Fund.

Estheticians are also encouraged to raise donations from their individual community and the top five estheticians who raise the most donations will be awarded gifts from NBEW sponsors.

Estheticians and supporters can become “ambassadors” by signing up for their personal giving link to raise donations, where they can share directly to social media, allowing them to track how many donations have come directly through their link.

Author: Tiffany

Tiffany is a licensed esthetician and the Founder of SpaSho.