Skin Cancer Awareness month falls during a very bad time of the year for students.
Instead of the Wellness Center being able to focus their efforts on raising awareness, they spend most of their time helping students deal with the stress of finals, according to interim director of the Wellness Center, Michelle Ihmels.
“May sort of falls on a bad month for us,” Ihmels said. “Students are preparing for finals and getting out of here. A lot of what we’ve done is more about stress reduction and how to get through the next few weeks.”
All the Wellness Center has been able to put out in regards to skin cancer is the basic brochure — something Ihmels and Kathy Kustra, wife of Boise State president Bob Kustra, would like to change in the future.
Kustra is a two time survivor of skin cancer — something she attributes to a lack of understanding regarding the consequences of trying to get tan in her youth.
“I was young once and used to spend a lot of hours trying to get a tan,” Kustra said. “I’ve had to face the consequences of that having skin cancer twice, both very serious kinds.”
Kustra was first diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, on her arm in 1991. Fortunately for Kustra, it was diagnosed in the early stages and only required a simple day surgery to remove.
In 2011, however, she was diagnosed once again with skin cancer. This time a much more rare form called microcystic adnexal carcinoma developed on her face.
Kustra required a Mohs surgery to remove the cancer from her face, leaving her with a large scar on her cheek.
“(The Mohs surgery) was quite an ordeal,” Kustra said. “I’m still lucky that it was found early on.”
Kustra is not the only one with Boise State ties to have been affected by skin cancer. Former Broncos soccer player Amy Dunn passed away from melanoma in 2012.
Some of Dunn’s former teammates now put on an annual race called “Run for Dunn” to raise funds for the Sol Survivors Melanoma Foundation and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Both Kustra and Ihmels hope to create a large event for the next school year to better raise awareness about skin cancer.
Both would like to include the Run for Dunn as part of the event, but plans are to make the event during winter in hopes of educating students about the consequences of skin cancer before they begin to start tanning during the spring months.