An organisation dedicated to fighting skin cancer has celebrated its official launch.
MelanomaMe was founded by Kerry Rafferty and Elaine Taylor after Kerry had a cancerous mole removed from her back and underwent lymph node biopsy to prevent the disease from spreading.
Based in Sunderland, they now lead a team of 10 employees offering counselling, support work and holistic therapy thoughout the region.
Early initiatives include working alongside skin cancer charity Skcin and visiting work places from Northumberland down to East Cleveland to educate nearly 15,000 staff about the illness.
Kerry, a 39-year-old mother-of-three, from Washington, was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in 2015 and said: “Because I was personally diagnosed with melanoma, I understand the stress and anxiety of such a diagnosis and how this impacts a person’s life.
“I want to spread the message of awareness and education of the disease and help provide a range of services for patients, from emotional and well-being support to help in claiming benefits.”
Marie Tudor, Skcin’s national campaign and business development manager, added: ”Kerry will be a valuable asset to supporting our goal in raising awareness.
“We already have a team of passionate ambassadors and Kerry’s work complements our own objectives to raise awareness of sun safety to promote prevention, early detection and diagnosis.
“We are proud to support the specialised services she offers, fulfilled and delivered by someone that truly understands the needs of a melanoma patient.”
Both Kerry and Elaine are qualified counsellors and joint managing directors of MelanomaMe.
Elaine added: “Over 86 per cent of skin cancers are caused by over exposure to ultraviolet light, meaning melanoma and all skin cancers are largely preventable.
“Education is key to changing these statistics and, armed with targeted and measurable awareness programmes aimed at high risk groups, Skcin and MelanomaMe aim to change behaviours, mitigate future healthcare costs and ultimately save lives.”
Sharon Hodgson, the MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who attended the opening, said: “I wish them all the best in the coming months and years ahead and look forward to working with them closely in Sunderland to raise awareness of melanoma and the support that is on offer at MelanomaMe.”
Others to attend the launch included Mr England finalist and Mr Sunderland Brad Hopper, who is MelonamaMe’s patron.
He said: “I am proud to act a patron of MelanomaMe. For me to be able to raise awareness and contribute to saving lives of others is a blessing.”
MelanomaMe has offices in the SES Co-op Centre, in Whitehouse Road, Hendon, which are open from Mondays-Fridays between 9am-5pm.
It also offers advice within Washington’s Victoria Road health practice.
Further information is available by telephoning (0191) 5111391 or (07799) 130078.
More details about the organisation can also be found via www.melanoma-me.org.uk, by searching for MelanomaMe on Facebook and on Twitter via @MelanomaMe17.