As we round out 2017 and enter the New Year here at IMPACT Melanoma, we’re so pleased to announce the latest development in our quest to eradicate the incidences of melanoma around the country, and, for that matter, the globe. Beginning on New Year’s Eve, IMPACT Melanoma will welcome in the knowledge, resources, and guidance of the Melanoma Coalition who will combine efforts with our organization.
Founded in 2014, the California-based Melanoma Coalition has been dedicated to supporting the research for a cure, as well as working to implement educational initiatives and legislation reform surrounding melanoma.
“What I have found with Melanoma in particular is that there’s no singular voice, so I believe that there’s power in numbers,” said Melanoma Coalition President, Tracy Cockerham. “And because our visions are aligned I think that it makes perfect sense and we ultimately get strength by coming together. IMPACT Melanoma has just done amazing work, and now they’re a national organization, so it just makes sense for us to combine forces. We both believe strongly that this disease is highly preventable. So the more we can educate together and the more we can teach people to avoid (the sun’s UV rays), the better. The shear voice of coming together will be powerful.”
“This is really something of a seamless partnership,” said Deb Girard, Executive Director of IMPACT Melanoma. “Cockerham has been a part of our board since 2014. Tracy has been deeply involved in the melanoma community following her son’s passing to the disease.” The Melanoma Coalition was initially established “in loving memory of Connor M. Cockerham and to countless others who have lost their lives to this dreadful disease.”
Connor was first diagnosed with Melanoma in his senior year of high school. What should have been a time of excitement and new beginnings was instead one of surgeries and recovery. But, recover he did, and because his Melanoma was caught early and had not spread, he was able to begin his freshman year of college with all of his friends. He was a normal college kid doing normal college things.
Connor, who was also known by friends and family as “The Ginger,” lived to make others smile. He loved to dance, he dined on joy, and it was this
glowing spirit that drew people to his company. He had a special talent for recognizing peers who had trouble fitting in, and he made it his business to let them know why they were loved and that they had a friend who would stand beside them.
Just 15 months after Connor had been declared “cancer-free,” he had a recurrence. This time it wasn’t so simple. Connor’s Melanoma had not only returned, but had metastasized throughout his body. Just 2 months and 9 days later, on January 9, 2014, Connor’s young life ended. He was only 20 years old. While he was hospitalized, the outpouring of love and support he received from his friends provided evidence of Connor’s gift: a life spent spreading love and friendship always, no matter where he was.
On Connor’s hospital room wall was an Emile Zola quote so apropos that it was if someone had known Connor would be there. It read, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will answer you; I am here to live out loud.” Yes, Connor, you lived out loud, and you brought people together through your friendship and loving vitality. You are sorely missed by all who knew you.
Here at IMPACT Melanoma we’re happy to keep Connor’s spirit alive cannot wait to see what the future holds with this merger with the Melanoma Coalition. Together we’ll make great IMPACT throughout these United States!