• Tue. May 30th, 2023

20-year-old’s melanoma battle leads to Stony Brook skin cancer screenings


May 26, 2023

Mollie Biggane was a healthy, active 20-year-old who played soccer and tennis although increasing up in Garden City. She had no notion the uncommon mole behind her leg would turn out to be a deadly type of skin cancer recognized as melanoma.

By the time she was diagnosed, the cancer had progressed. Six months of treatment options and surgeries have been not capable to cease it.

Given that her death in 2000, Mollie’s family members has focused on bringing awareness to skin cancer in the hopes of sparing one more family members from the grief they went via.

Their most recent efforts with the nonprofit Mollie’s Fund is a new initiative that will help screen all individuals that enter Stony Brook University Hospital for skin cancer.


  • The family members of Mollie Biggane, a 20-year-old Garden City lady who died from melanoma in 2000, has spent far more than two decades educating people today about the dangers of skin cancer with the nonprofit Mollie’s Fund.
  • The nonprofit’s most recent initiative is a plan to screen all individuals getting into Stony Brook University Hospital for skin cancer.
  • Skin cancer is the most frequent type of cancer in the United States. Early detection can lead to productive therapy of the illness.

Incidences of skin cancer have reached “epidemic proportions,” mentioned Victoria Siegel, a registered nurse who sits on the healthcare advisory board of Mollie’s Fund.

Siegel, a professor of nursing at Molloy University, has helped create the screening protocols that will now be employed at Stony Brook and has been implemented at other Extended Island hospitals.

“Nurses are so involved in teaching people today about healthier behaviors, such as appropriate nutrition and security for youngsters,” mentioned Siegel. “This is a likelihood to teach them about sun protected behaviors, checking their skin and going to a physician if they feel something’s incorrect with their skin.”

Years of exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, tanning beds or sunlamps can lead to skin cancer, according to the Centers for Illness Manage and Prevention. Estimates quoted by the American Academy of Dermatology show about 9,500 people today in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every single day.

“Skin cancer accounts for far more cancer than all the cancers combined,” mentioned Mollie’s mother, Maggie Biggane. “Anyone who has skin can get it and to a significant extent, it is preventable.”

Melanoma, the most severe type of skin cancer, can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs. It is hugely treatable when detected early, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

“Young people today under no circumstances feel it is going to come about to them,” mentioned Maggie Biggane, who produced the nonprofit with Mollie’s father, Jack, and their youngsters, Cara, Julie and Jack

Screenings could lead to referrals

Biggane mentioned awareness of skin cancer has vastly enhanced considering the fact that Mollie very first noticed the uncommon mole on the back of her leg.

“It had all the hallmarks (of skin cancer),” Biggane mentioned. “It was bleeding. Now we know that is a warning sign.”

With her reddish-blond hair and fair skin, Mollie wasn’t a sun-worshipper, her mom mentioned. But the active young lady was captain of her tennis group and played travel soccer.

“Did we use sunscreen? Yes. Have been we vigilant about it? Likely not,” mentioned Biggane. “We had an umbrella but that does not evaluate to the SPF clothes parents are placing on their children nowadays.”

Mollie’s Fund performs on educational applications, public service announcements and other efforts to remind people today be mindful of sun exposure and often put on sunscreen.

The hospital initiative is a “organic extension” of the screenings that nurses do for all new individuals, mentioned Carolyn Santora, chief nursing officer at Stony Brook University Hospital.

“Currently when individuals are admitted to the hospital, nurses do a complete skin assessment,” mentioned Santora.

“We are seeking for stress ulcers, bruises, rashes and other skin circumstances. A natural extension of that skin assessment is to observe for moles and speak to the individuals about their history, no matter whether or not they use sunscreen, how a lot sun exposure they have had more than time, and no matter whether or not they use sunscreen. Threat of skin cancer increases with the quantity of unprotected sun exposure more than time.”

Santora mentioned nurses will also use the chance to clarify to individuals the significance of defending themselves from the sun’s rays.

If the nurses see an uncommon mole or skin lesion or if the patient relates a concern, they can be referred to a dermatologist for additional examination and achievable therapy.

Siegel mentioned people today ought to be mindful of the sun but not really feel like they cannot go outdoors.

“Be wise about it,” she mentioned. “Cover your skin with clothes. Put on a wide 4 inch brim hat, put on sunscreen and under no circumstances go tanning.”

Lisa joined Newsday as a employees writer in 2019. She previously worked at amNewYork, the New York Every day News and the Asbury Park Press covering politics, government and basic assignment.