“The west coast has the sunshine, and the girls all get so tanned” are lyrics likely to be left unsung at the “Rock Out Melanoma” fundraiser March 8 in Northfield.
Despite awareness of the dangers of overexposure to the sun and the risks in using tanning salons, skin cancer rates continue to rise at a fast rate, so the fundraiser aims to help change that.
Three area bands, Who’s Your Daddy? PopRocks, and Loose Change, will perform popular rock hits in a battle of the bands event presented by Skin of Steel to benefit the national Melanoma Tissue Bank, and recognize the new Chicago partner, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
“The Lurie Center has agreed to be the Chicago partner of the national melanoma tissue bank network, and our event March 8 will be announcing that,” said Steve Sullivan, current president of Skin of Steel.
Sullivan expects the music to be a big draw for the party.
“The three bands are so well known and so beloved around here, and are really driving attendance for the event,” he said. “They are all donating their performances, all rock and roll, playing songs by bands like the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, U2, R.E.M., all the bands play the same vintage genre. The event will be fully catered by the Happ Inn, which is a great restaurant, and also Malnati’s (Pizzeria). There will be a silent auction and a lot of the items are rock and roll related. It’s a 21 and over event. Every penny of the net proceeds is going to the national melanoma tissue bank.”
Skin of Steel has been active since about 2008. “Susan Steel, a Glenview resident and nine year survivor of melanoma, is the founder,” said Sullivan.
This “battle,” he explained, also celebrates awareness for what Skin of Steel is doing, how it’s trying to find “a donor or donors that are so inspired by what we’re doing, that we could get the tissue bank built, not only here in Chicago, but in Portland, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh.”
The Lurie Center becomes one of four participants of a networking national Tissue Bank, along with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon health and Science University, and the California Pacific Medical Center, all seeking to collect fresh frozen primary tissue for lab studies and research.
Skin of Steel, which started as an educational and awareness group to provide support for and to rally around Susan Steel, has evolved into an effort to build a melanoma tissue bank to take research to the next level, Sullivan said.
He explained that a tissue bank is a crucial research resource. “Much of the research, much of the advances, that have happened, say, in breast cancer prevention and treatment, have come from tissue banking,” he said. “Researchers are able to obtain DNA and RNA if the tissue is frozen in a timely manner, so there’s a scientific advantage to having fresh frozen tissue to get at some of the genetic complexities.”
Sullivan’s involvement in Skin of Steel came from knowing Susan Steel through business, and by his own family loss.
“My brother died from melanoma and so my involvement in this group is pretty personal. I watched my brother take his last breath with my parents standing there. Once something like that happens to you, and you find an opportunity to get involved, you jump in with both feet,” he said.