Golfer Andy North has seen the progress in melanoma awareness
North has remained passionate about the topic, and his attention has turned to his native Wisconsin. He began a charity golf outing in 2009 in the Wisconsin Dells to support the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.
A Madison resident, North felt fortunate to have a leading cancer center at his fingertips, yet he says many who suffer from the disease don't know one of the world's premier facilities is easily accessible.
"The cancer center here is, year after year, rated in the top four or five in the world, yet we've got people living half a mile away that if they have a problem they don't even know where to go," North said. "I think sometimes being good Midwesterners, we don't pound our chest enough."
North says seven thousand cancer patients a year come through the doors at the Carbone Center, which is the beneficiary of his Andy North and Friends golf outing. In 2009 the event raised just under $300,000. This year's event topped $1 million.
"It would be nice to say that at some point in time we can cure every one of those people," North said. "Unfortunately sometimes you just can't, and that's a horrible thing. But the neatest thing is that we're doing the best here to make sure you can get to that point. The dollars we're going to raise is going to go into research, and that research will find cures.
"In the last three or four years there's been some unbelievable progress made right here. We've got multiple programs that are worldwide, that this is the protocol that you use, that was developed right here in Madison. Those are the things that we're really proud of. We'd love to be able to have Andy and Friends one of these years to celebrate not having to raise any more money. I think that's everybody's goal. We're a ways away from that, but we're getting closer every day."
North, who now spends most of his time analyzing golf for ESPN and ABC, finds satisfaction in talking about his past and current battles with skin cancer, and the efforts he's made to bring about more awareness of the disease and what Wisconsin has to offer to those affected by it.
In a way, he's become perhaps more well-known for that advocacy than decorated playing and broadcast careers.
"If it only affects one person positively, we made a step in the right direction," he said simply. "If nothing else, that's been a big step. But I think overall it's something people have written about and talked about and for someone to die of a skin cancer, it's really sad because so much of it can be prevented."
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