Robyn Cook is no stranger to melanoma. Her father battled the disease when he was in his late 40s and she lost her brother to melanoma in 2015 after he put up a brief but brave 11-month fight. In 2009, Cook herself was diagnosed with Stage 1 melanoma and was treated successfully. Then in 2012, it came back with a vengeance – Stage 4 with brain metastases. After intense treatments, Cook has now thankfully been NED (No Evidence of Disease) for a little over two years.
In addition to the familial link with melanoma, Cook said she had a large amount of sun exposure when she was young and even worked in a tanning salon during college, where she used tanning beds regularly.
Now at age 48, she is trying to keep young people from making the same mistakes. She has turned the tragic loss of her brother and her own battle with melanoma into something positive. For the past two years, Cook has been visiting middle and high schools in her hometown of Princeton, Minnesota speaking on melanoma awareness and sun safety.
“I am trying to use my experience to help others so they don’t go through what I have,” Cook said. “I think having a real person share their experience has a bigger impact on these young people than just hearing that you should wear sunscreen during a health class.”
Cook talks to students about the importance of being sun wise, discouraging tanning bed use and discussing ways they can prevent skin cancer. “Melanoma is the number one cancer diagnosed in young people ages 15-29,” Cook added.
Last year, Cook also spoke at a health fair at a local community college, and on March 5, she will be the Keynote Speaker at Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Annual Convention in Coon Rapids, Minn.
Blue Lizard® Australian Sunscreen was happy to partner with Cook in spreading this importance message and has provided her with sunscreen samples and UV-changing bracelets to give out to students at her presentations.
In addition to her work with the schools, Cook also coordinates two races in honor of her brother. The Second Annual Jason Fine Memorial 5K will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona, where her brother lived, and also in Princeton, Minnesota. The two races will be held on March 19 and will start at the same time in their respective time zones. Part of the proceeds from the event go to a fund set up for Cook’s continued medical expenses and part are donated to the Stay Out of the Sun Foundation at the Mayo Clinic.
“Not only is the Memorial Race a way to honor and remember my brother, Jason, but finishing a 5K is another victory for me as I continue my own battle with melanoma,” Cook said.