The Colorado Melanoma Foundation
Melanoma deaths in Colorado are preventable through sun safety education, sun safe behavior modification, and annual skin exams by a healthcare provider. However, while preventive measures are easy to perform, many Coloradans are unable to access these resources because of poor access to public health education or healthcare professionals.
The Colorado Melanoma Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was incorporated in July, 2013 as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in order to educate the public, support patient networks, encourage early detection and screening, and maintain current information on treatment options, sun protective behaviors, and recent developments in our global understanding on melanoma.
Our challenge at the Colorado Melanoma Foundation has been to find a way to effectively engage, educate, and screen Coloradans throughout the state to prevent skin cancer occurrences. The idea for the Sun Bus was borne from this necessity and in 2015 the Colorado Melanoma Foundation began raising money through the annual Summit Melanoma Golf Tournament at the Club at Cordillera in Edwards, CO to acquire the funds necessary to make this project a reality.
To learn more about the Colorado Melanoma Foundation, its fundraising events, governing body, and additional information, please visit www.comelanoma.org
The Sun Bus
In 2018, the Colorado Melanoma Foundation raised enough funds to purchase the vehicle that would become The Sun Bus and by the beginning of 2019, The Sun Bus was officially launched to better address the Colorado Melanoma Foundation's mission throughout the state by bringing the free skin exams and public education directly to its residents.
The Sun Bus operates on an annual basis with funds provided by supporting organizations such as EltaMD, Wallaroo Hat Company, the Cancer League of Colorado, Vail/Aspen/Breckenridge Dermatology, Discount Tire, Vail Health, Modernizing Medicine, Ferndale Healthcare, Inc., and Castle Biosciences. If you or someone you know is interested in donating to the Sun Bus or becoming an official sponsor for the 2021 Epiphany Tour, check out our donate page or download our sponsorship booklet by clicking here.
The Sun Bus is a mobile classroom & clinic that has the flexibility to hyper-target select audiences at varying times throughout the year. In 2019, The Sun Bus attended highly populated events and festivals between May and November and provided sun safety education, free EltaMD sunscreen, skin cancer awareness, and free skin checks provided by local volunteer dermatologists or physician assistants.
In 2021, The Sun Bus is partnering with Epiphany Dermatology to provide skin cancer screenings across the southwest United States! Our goal is to provide screenings at more than 50 Epiphany Dermatology locations and community events. To see our updated schedule, please check out our calendar.
In addition to the Epiphany Tour and scheduled community events, the Sun Bus also provides fun and engaging educational activities about sun safety and skin health at Colorado K-12 schools between November and May. As funds grow and outreach capabilities expand, the Sun Bus will also incorporate melanoma research initiatives to further increase the knowledge associated with this deadly cancer. The Sun Bus has integrated 2 state-of-the art cameras to make its public education objectives both engaging and memorable: the Reveal Facial Imager and an Ultra Violet Camera.
The Reveal Imager
The Reveal Facial Imager is a special camera that shows the sun damage one receives over a lifetime by revealing underlying skin damage not seen by the naked eye. The more contrast (darker spots against lighter background) a person has, the more sun damage they have received over their life and the higher their chances of developing skin cancer. Typically, younger people or those with darker skin have less sun damage (see example Image 1) while older individuals with lighter completion and/or a history of sun exposure without sunscreen have more sun damage (see example Image 2).
These images are a memorable reminder for visitors to always protect themselves from the sun!
Example Image 1 (Left) Example Image 2 (Right).
The Ultra Violet Camera
On the side of the Sun Bus is a special camera to demonstrate to visitors how sunscreen protects from ultra violet radiation. This camera only sees in the ultra violet spectrum and shows the effects of applying UV absorbing sunscreens vs UV reflecting sunscreens on the user. UV absorbing, or Chemical, sunscreens absorb UV light and appear dark through this camera (see example image 3); UV reflective, or Physical, sunscreen reflects UV light and appears white through this camera (see example image 4).
Visitors are provided with free samples of EltaMD sunscreen, a physical sunscreen, and can see a live feed of its effect on the video monitor integrated on the side of the Sun Bus.
Example Image 3. Chemical sunscreens appear dark on the UV camera because they absorb ultra violet light.
Example Image 4. Physical sunscreens appear white on the UV camera because they reflect ultra violet light. EltaMD is a physical sunscreen.