MaryAnn Gerber, the founder of SolSurvivors, was diagnosed with melanoma at the tender age of 24. When she was diagnosed, MaryAnn was the only person in her family that had had skin cancer before. One of the first questions her oncologists asked was if she was using a tanning bed. She said yes, but she had always been super careful. She never burned and made sure to follow all the recommended guidelines. Only after being diagnosed with melanoma did MaryAnn realize that using tanning beds had likely caused her cancer. Two surgeries later, including the removal of 26 lymph nodes on the left side of her neck and months of bed rest, MaryAnn was finally ready to return to her normal life. What she didn't realize was that her life was never going to be the same again. She was having trouble coping with her new scars, the questions, the staring. Her self confidence was extremely low. She needed an avenue to express her feelings, thoughts, and frustrations. Shortly thereafter, MaryAnn discovered her love for educating the public about the dangers of tanning beds and melanoma. She's given numerous TV interviews and given speeches to children of all ages. She founded SolSurvivors in 2012.
Bob Weir is a small business owner who operates a Certified Financial Planning practice in Salt Lake City. He has 5 children and 2 grandchildren. He was diagnosed in November of 2010 when melanoma lesions were found on his left temple and lower back. He noticed a spot on his left cheek that wouldn’t heel so he made an appointment to see his daughter’s dermatologist. The spot on his left cheek was basal cell, but when the biopsy reports came back on the other two spots that were found, melanoma was the diagnosis. Basal cell and the careful eye of his dermatologist saved his life. He attributes his melanoma to sun exposure from being an avid snow skier and outdoors person.
Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Sancy Leachman is the Chair of Dermatology and Director of the KnightCancer Institute Melanoma Program at Oregon Health and Science University. Prior to OHSU, she was the Director of the Melanoma Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and she has retained an adjunct faculty status. She has vast experience working with patient advocacy groups and has been involved with SolSurvivors since its inception. She is now on the board of SolSurvivors. She was also one of the founding members of Pachyonychia Congenita Project, a public charity devoted to patient advocacy and effective therapy for this genetic skin disease. During her medical directorship of PC-Project she partnered with the Foundation, and industrial partnet (TransDerm, Inc.) to bring the first siRNA therapeutic for skin into a clinical trial. She is committed to partnerships with patients to accomplish research projects that would be daunting without her help. For example, she has enrolled participants in peer-reviewed studies using data collected at large skin cancer screenings and health care fairs. She has completed IRB-approved genetic testing for research in these same patient populations.