Mom battling melanoma after tanning dies at 31 - New York News

Mom battling melanoma after tanning dies at 31

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Sarah Brandes was featured in a Healthworks story in May of 2013. Sarah Brandes was featured in a Healthworks story in May of 2013.
(WJBK) -

You may remember the inspiring young mother who was battling skin cancer, Sarah Brandes. She passed away this weekend at the age of 31.

She leaves behind a 13-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. Her brother tells FOX 2's Deena Centofanti she was very proud of the Healthworks story she was featured in last year.

ALSO SEE: Mom battling melanoma at 31 believes the tanning bed is to blame

"My mole was a little bit bigger than a pencil eraser," she said.  "Underneath what they took out was the size of a softball."

Despite several surgeries and harsh medication, the cancer just keeps coming back.

"They removed a big mass from my calf just kind of to try to buy me time a little bit and trying to stop the spread... so I could get on some more medicine," Brandes said.

 Sarah kept trying experimental treatments, but often the cancer is more aggressive in younger patients,, which dermatologist Steve Grekin said doctors aren't used to.

"When I started practicing 20 years ago, we would see three, four, five melanomas in a year.  Unfortunately today, 20 years later, we see three, four or five every week," Grekin explained.

Sarah blamed tanning beds for causing her cancer and, in fact, melanoma is the most common form of cancer for 25 to 29 year olds.

"Melanoma used to be a disease that affected individuals 50, 60, 70 years of age.  Now we're seeing them 20, 30, 40 years of age, and it's been directly tied to ultraviolet exposure -- tanning beds and lots of unprotected sun," Grekin said.

Sarah spent her final months raising research funds and awareness,  teaching others the lesson that she learned much too late.

"To have that golden bronze tan isn't worth dying over," she said.

Anyone wanting to help the cause is asked to contribute to Aim at Melanoma.

Online: www.aimatmelanoma.org

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