Menifee resident Eric Martin is a typical Southern California resident. He is married, has two sons and is a hard worker providing for his family. He also has stage 4 melanoma.
Martin’s diagnosis hasn’t stopped him though. In a typical “make lemonade out of lemons” scenario, the 37-year-old mechanic, who has gone through dozens of rounds of treatments and clinical trials, came up with a unique idea to raise melanoma awareness and promote education of the disease.
First diagnosed in 2011, Martin’s body is riddled with cancer, according to his mother Penny Martin, who said that Eric Martin has had tumors “everywhere on the inside and outside of his body.”
“Including in his brain,” Penny Martin said, adding that skin cancer affects one in five Americans and is more commonly diagnosed in the U.S. than any other cancers combined.
“Melanoma being the deadliest form of skin cancer,” Penny Martin said. “An estimated 7,230 people will die of melanoma in 2019. It is estimated that 192,310 new cases of melanoma, 95,830 non evasive and 96,480 invasive, will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2019.One person dies every 58 minutes from this awful disease. It can affect anyone, regardless of skin color or age.”
But Eric Martin is a fighter, Penny Martin said.
“Life is never a dull moment when you have cancer,” Eric Martin said.
A little over a year ago, Eric Martin came up with the idea for a nonprofit, Stage Free Melanoma. The goal of the nonprofit is to raise funds to support clinical trials in Southern California conducting cutting edge research.
Shortly after, he began to think about awareness and education, and he came up with another idea: to find a retired school bus and transform it into a mobile dermatology clinic that would travel throughout San Diego and Riverside counties and do free skin checks. The mobile clinic, Penny Martin said, would be staffed by volunteer dermatologists.
“There is not near enough education out there about the dangers from the sun and tanning beds,” she said. “My son has this awful disease that has almost taken him so many times, but he refuses to let it take him down. In July 2018, Stage Free Melanoma became a nonprofit organization that is all about awareness and education.”
The mobile clinic, known as the #MolePatrol, will offer a variety of services including free skin screenings by a licensed dermatologist though no treatment or invasive procedures will be provided at the time of screenings, sunscreen and melanoma educational handouts and awareness presentations by melanoma survivors and local dermatologists.
Though Eric Martin continues his battle with melanoma, his nonprofit dream is about to come true when Stage Free Melanoma hosts a ribbon-cutting for its mobile dermatology clinic #MolePatrol takes place at Bel Vino Winery, Thursday, Sept. 26.
Scheduled for 3-9 p.m. at Bel Vino Winery, 33515 Rancho California, in Temecula Valley Wine Country, the event is free for attendees with a suggested donation of $10 at the door which includes a raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets are available for $5 each. The event will feature live music, a corn hole tournament, food vendors and prizes.
For those interested in learning more about Stage Free Melanoma and how to help, visit www.stagefreemelanoma.org. To enter a team in the cornhole tournament or for sponsorship opportunities, send an email to email@example.com or call (760) 504-8709.
Kim Harris can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.