PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- A Platte City teen's mission is to make others aware of melanoma. It's a potentially deadly skin cancer that she's already had.
Makenzie Martin wore sunscreen. She didn't go to tanning beds.
"I wasn't the person to go lay outside for hours on end," said Martin.
But the fair-skinned blonde did spend plenty of time outdoors.
"Did she get a bad sunburn as a young child? Probably so. That increased her odds by 74 percent," said her mother, Cynthia Martin.
Still, it was shock when a mole on Makenzie's back prompted concern when spotted during a sports physical. It turned out to be melanoma. She was just 15 years old.
"I was focused on volleyball and high school and being a regular teenager, and that kinda went out the door pretty quick," said Martin.
She had surgeries to remove cancerous tissue. Lymph nodes were also removed. Fortunately, the cancer hadn't spread to them. Now 19, Makenzie's had 25 moles removed as a precaution. Those that remain must be regularly checked for any changes.
In the midst of it all, she started the Melanoma Miracles Foundation for education and research. The annual Sunscreen Stroll 5K is coming up May 3rd at Smithville Dam. For details and registration, go to: www.MelanomaMiracles.org
"We talk with anyone who will have us to come talk," said Martin.
She talks about wearing sunscreen, and about doing skin self-exams.
"Know your moles. Know where they are. Know if they're changing," said Martin.
Her mother says the message has prompted some friends to go to the dermatologist.
"And who've been diagnosed with melanoma and there are people who've said had they not met Makenzie they would have never gone," said Cynthia Martin.
Makenzie Martin says she wants others to know that melanoma can happen to anyone -- even a teen. She wants to make melanoma her life's work. She's studying to be a nurse.
Martin will also be part of the Sunblock Party on May 9th in Riverside. For details, go to www.sunblockparty.com