Help fight melanoma to remember young skin cancer victim

Remembering Tara Miller

- If you think melanoma is a skin cancer that’s easy to remove, then you’re in for a shock.

FOX 29 first introduced you to Tara Miller in July, 2014. She had a bump behind her ear.

"It was starting to hurt to eat. I thought it was just kind of from my earring or something,” the Longport, Atlantic County, woman said.

She was just 29 years old and sadly, she was wrong about the bump. It was something much more serious.

"I went to a doctor who ordered a C.T. and it came back as something suspicious,” Miller explained, “so they did a needle biopsy and that came back as melanoma."

The diagnosis was especially a shock because Miller always made a point of getting yearly skin checks, and applied sunscreen whenever she went outside.

"I was like, how did I get melanoma? It felt like a lump. Isn’t melanoma in the skin? But later down the road, they figured it was actually a mole that started up here," she said, pointing to her forehead.

Melanoma is actually one of the most serious forms of skin cancer for young adults, ages 25 to 29.

Her twin sister Lauren Miller said, "What started as a mole in the past, 11 months, has also turned into 14 brain tumors and four spots in her lungs and lymph nodes.”

Sadly, Tara Miller lost her battle with melanoma months after that interview, in October, 2014. That was despite having what her family called the best doctors in the world.

Now, her parents George and Debbie -- and sisters Kristi and Lauren – discussed the Tara Miller Melanoma Foundation to raise awareness, raise money for research, and to keep her memory alive.

They told FOX 29’s Mike Jerrick Tara’s death is still hard to believe and encourage everyone -- especially down the shore -- to get checked by a doctor, since melanoma can go deep into the body and be difficult to remove.

“I think the perception of melanoma is just something on the skin and maybe you can have it removed, but it's a much more serious and deadly form of cancer," Lauren Miller said.

So far, the foundation has raised more than $1 million and donated almost $950,000 for research.

An opportunity to help will be coming up Friday, June 17. The third annual Make the Best Of It Bash will be held at the Tropicana Casino Resort.

All the money raised will go towards melanoma research and it’ll be fun, as Tara’s family said she was.

Click here for the event details.

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