MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One in five people will develop skin cancer in their life. Melanoma is the deadliest form. The first Monday in May is dubbed Melanoma Monday, dedicated to raising awareness.
In honor of it, Minneapolis-based Coolibar revealed a “Be Brave” T-shirt in front of students at Westwood Middle School in Blaine. A family there inspired the UV-blocking shirt that will raise money for research, education and advocacy.
WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle talked with the siblings impacted by the cancer and their brave message.
“I just like when the ball goes into the hoop,” Graham Trocke-Fowler said.
Shooting hoops is where he feels like a regular eighth-grader.
“I was starting to get in a groove with it and now I can go left,” he said.
His younger sister is never far away.
“He’s a really funny brother and he’s real fun to hang out with,” Quinnly Trocke said.
She was young when doctors diagnosed her brother with pediatric melanoma.
“It means that he has cancer and it’s very rare for a child to have melanoma so it sometimes makes me sad. And I don’t want him to pass away because he’s a big part of my family,” she said.
She’s watched her brother go to doctor appointment after doctor appointment. And she’s been there for countless surgeries in his 14 years. More recently she’s seen him feel frustrated and heard him ask doctors if he can say ‘no’ to another surgery.
“He says one more, then we have to do another one, and then I was like crying and stuff. I was like ‘I’m done, I don’t want to do this anymore. I was like when can I stop?'” Trocke-Fowler said.
His sister has remained a steadfast cheerleader in her support.
“I tell him to be brave and like don’t worry about it because it will help you,” Trocke said.
Be brave: two powerful words. Mayerle asked Trocke-Fowler what that means to him.
“That she cares about me. It makes me feel more safe,” he said.
That thought, that feeling, helps him be brave. And he hopes his journey will help others be brave too.
“When they’re like getting a procedure or a biopsy or like having an MRI you just gotta be brave,” he said.
Trocke-Fowler had his most recent surgery last week.
Trocke shared their story during a summit for melanoma patients and their families last year. There she designed her “Be Brave” shirt and it’s what inspired the Coolibar shirt that is available to buy through the month of May. All of the money goes to the Melanoma Research Foundation.
CEO Kendra Reichenau calls Coolibar a mission driven organization that believes in working with foundations to help them find a cure for skin cancer and melanoma.
Here’s why Graham’s mother Cheryl calls her son brave:
And here is CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell on “Be Brave”: