Featured Survivor Story:
Julie Frampton was 34 years old when her daughter spotted a bloody mole on Julie’s back, right between her shoulder blades. That bloody mole would turn out to be melanoma, and that diagnosis was the start of a new world for her.
The melanoma was, of course, removed, leaving a scar on her back that Julie says resembles a shark bite, but getting to that point was not easy. She’d started with her general practitioner, and after referrals to a plastic surgeon and a dermatologist, she finally ended up at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for the surgery, a second opinion on the pathology report, and a diagnosis.
Her melanoma is called nevoid melanoma, a rare subtype. It was tricky for her doctors to diagnose and hard for her to get information about, because of its rarity.
AIM at Melanoma was the first help she found.
“What set AIM apart from the other sites I visited was the Nurse on Call,” Julie says. (Note: AIM now has Physician Assistant on Call.) “It was so great to be able to talk to someone about the questions I had when I wasn’t able to speak to my doctor.”
Once diagnosed, she was diligent about skin self-checks and dermatology appointments. “I checked my skin regularly,” she says, and thankfully so, because two years later she found another small dark spot elsewhere on her body that was melanoma in situ.
Julie’s melanoma story is unique, just as all melanoma stories are. And what Julie has done since her diagnosis is also unique.
She’d always been involved in non-profit volunteering, including running a successful annual fundraiser for children’s neuroblastoma.
“It’s absolutely healing to volunteer,” she says.
But she began finding it important to volunteer specifically in the melanoma world, and Julie has volunteered for AIM at Melanoma at a variety of events, especially Walks, near her Texas home.
“An AIM Walk is a place of like-mindedness,” says Julie. “It’s knowing I’m not alone. It’s community.”
Julie has participated in five AIM Walks, both in Dallas and Houston.
“I’m a big believer that if we talk openly and honestly about a subject, we take the stigma away,” Julie says. And being around people fighting melanoma are those she wants to talk with.
“When you hear the words, You have cancer, your life is forever changed. You will never be the same person you were before,” she says. Volunteering helps heal some of those raw emotions and helps Julie feel like she’s making a difference.
“Volunteering is rolling up our sleeves and working together,” she says, “so that soon no one will have to feel the way we felt.”
In addition to her volunteering, Julie also began preaching prevention.
She’s done everything from creating a campaign called “Pass the Parasol” in conjunction with a sun umbrella company in New York, to presenting local junior high school kids with free sunscreen and educational materials, to telling everyone she knows to get their skin checked by a dermatologist and to check their own skin.
As if that isn’t enough, Julie is an avid and successful fundraiser for AIM.
“My husband refers to me as a bulldog,” Julie says. “But if I don’t do it, who will? If I don’t raise funds to find the cure, who will? I need to be part of the solution.”
Well said, Julie.