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Megan’s personal story

Megan Sullivan
As a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and climber, I have a passion for telling stories and traveling the world. In 2014, I got hit with a dose of perspective—literally. I fell 50 feet climbing in Yosemite, got hit by a car, and then was diagnosed with skin cancer—all in one month. Two weeks later, I decided to see the 7 New Wonders of the World in just 13 days with a new outlook on life: to live more now.

It all started in Yosemite Valley, where I had been training for three years to climb the Nose route on El Capitan. I was 2,000 feet up when I took a terrifying 50-foot fall. Like something out of a movie, a week later I was hit by a car while riding my Vespa, and then a week later I was diagnosed with melanoma during a routine skin check by my dermatologist. In three weeks’ time, I was handed the trifecta of bad luck.

My skin cancer diagnosis took me by complete surprise. In the 25-35 range, you just don’t think you’re going to get skin cancer. The spot on my forehead was nothing like what I thought melanoma would look like. It appeared as dry skin, almost like a pimple; not the dark, black mole I envisioned melanoma to be.

After I had Mohs surgery to remove my skin cancer and was given a clean bill of health, I started to rethink how I was living my life. I had a dream to travel the world and film the adventure, but up until then it was just that, a dream. I came to this amazing realization: The only thing stopping me from having everything that I ever wanted in life was simple: me.

I decided I was going to live more now. With two weeks of planning, I left on an adventure of a lifetime. In 13 days, I traveled the world, visiting all of the seven New Wonders. It was a whirlwind trip that set me on a new path for my life—a journey guided by inspiration and determination to fulfill my pursuit of happiness.

This led me to teaming up with the Academy for Skin Cancer, Take a Hike!™.  In 2017, I joined a team of nine other hikers to trek the eighth wonder of the world, Patagonia’s “W” Trail in Torres del Paine, to raise awareness and support for skin cancer programs and services. I am excited to be continuing this journey as we take on wild Alaska this July.

My skin cancer diagnosis saved my life in more ways than one. Now, I go for an annual skin check, I always wear a hat and long sleeves when I’m climbing outside, and I reach for the 70+ SPF sunscreen and wear it daily. While many Americans are more vigilant about protecting their skin during the summer months, few take the necessary precautionary steps to stay safe throughout the entire year. Pursuing my passion and helping others affected by skin cancer is something I care deeply about.  We only get one shot at life—choose to live more today!