Donna's story

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My story:

My daughter, Jaime Regen Rea, was only 29 when she passed away from melanoma in March 2007 — just three weeks shy of her 30th birthday. She was married, pursuing the career of her dreams and looking forward to her future.

She had a bubbly personality that sparkled. She was one of those people who never met a stranger. And, even when she was dying of melanoma, she always put on a smile. She didn't want others to feel bad for her. In Jaime's mind, she wasn't planning on dying. She had too much living to do. She was vital and vibrant, and she just wanted to live.

Jaime went from being a tanning bed addict to a melanoma patient in just a couple of years.

As a teenager, Jaime wanted to look tan. She wanted to be popular. She wanted to do what everybody else was doing. On her lunch hours during high school, Jaime went to a nearby tanning salon just about every day. I didn't know how dangerous tanning beds were. Now we know that UV rays from tanning beds are intense and contribute to melanoma.

Jaime went from being a tanning bed addict to a melanoma patient in just a couple of years. When she was 20, she noticed a mole on her back that started to bleed. It was melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

After Jaime's initial diagnosis, she fought melanoma for nine years, traveling across the country for treatments, which included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation that caused her to lose weight and her hair. She fought a long and hard battle and has been a hero and an inspiration to melanoma patients and their families all over the world. She touched many lives with her positive determined attitude, huge smile and her strong will to live.

Watch a video about Jaime's struggle with melanoma and its effect on her family.

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