A Tribute To Skin Of Steel Founder Susan Steel

Susan Steel, of Glenview, died in January from melanoma. Most people diagnosed with late-stage melanoma, like Steel, live for a few months. Steel lived for more than a decade. That is big news in and of itself, but what is extraordinary and inspiring is the way Steel lived and what she accomplished as she endured brain surgery after brain surgery and drug trial after drug trial.

susan steel skin of steel

Susan Steel in 2014.

Steel very intentionally lived “with vengeance”—as an alternative to just “fighting cancer.” She did so by focusing her attention on helping others—her children, friends, future melanoma patients, the world. Her impact grew with each passing month because of this. The nonprofit she founded with others to raise awareness of, education about and research opportunities for melanoma—Skin Of Steel (SOS) —will live on with vengeance, too.

“Susan founded SOS to provoke revolutionary change in the treatment and prevention of melanoma, and by God that is what we are on the cusp of!” Board Chair Steve Sullivan declares. “She strategically partnered with people all over the globe to change the landscape of melanoma, and attitudes toward melanoma, and there will be no ‘end’ to her story. She may well have the most productive afterlife of anyone the world has ever known… Our team is resolute to open the world’s first ever ‘openly collaborative melanoma tissue bank.’” These audacious, laudable plans helped SOS win a 2014 Make It Better Philanthropy Award.

skin of steel make it better philanthropy award winner

Susan Steel (center) receives a Make It Better Philanthropy Award on behalf of Skin of Steel.

In 2005, Steel was a married international real estate fund executive and former competitive skier with two children, 11 and 13, when she was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma and given that dire prognosis. She launched into seek and destroy mode, finding every possible experimental program that could help her fight against the deadly disease at places like the National Cancer Institute in Baltimore.

By 2008, the first time I wrote about her, Steel had already endured seven brain surgeries and clinical trials. She described a Tibetan Medical Monk asking her a question that transformed her thinking from just “fighting” her cancer battle to “living with a vengeance.” This energized her life and got her focused on helping others. Steel giggled and called her determined actions “leveraging cancer.”

Steel traveled with every family member to help them pursue some dream. She launched a crew program as a way to give back to her cadre of gal pals who swooped in to help her and her family during her treatments. She wanted them to focus on learning a new skill and taking better care of themselves. She surprised herself by joining them, too. According to coach Hope Poor, Steel stated: “Rowing was one of my most defiant acts.” It was also a great success. The program blossomed into today’s formidable New Trier Women’s Masters which competes across the country.

Steel started SOS in Glenview, primarily to educate local youth and others about melanoma prevention. She spoke publicly, including to rotaries and PTAs, ran fundraisers, insured that NorthShore University HealthSystem had a robust pool of blood platelet donors. As years passed and she lived on, Steel sought out fellow melanoma warriors nationally, helped rewrite medical protocol, learned that researchers clamor for more tissue to do their work, and so Steel set her sights even higher.

According to Sullivan, Steel’s life work became “helping science unlock genetic biomarkers that may very well hold hidden clues for cures.” With laser focus, Steel built a coalition and a plan to fund four collaborative tissue banks across the United States, including one in Chicago.

In 2014, Pittsburg’s Woiner Foundation hosted a forum announcing that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will be one of the Skin Of Steel tissue banks. This is the legacy that SOS continues to champion with a vengeance. Success insures that Steel’s legacy will transform life for melanoma patients and their families around the world in perpetuity.

By choosing to live with vengeance and help others, rather than just focusing on the fight she was destined to lose, Steel was able to live a decade longer than anticipated, help her children pursue dreams and grow into lovely adults, found a blossoming athletic program for women, inspire others to live courageously and with vengeance, and eventually likely transform melanoma research and outcomes around the world.

Thank you, Susan Steel. God rest.

Shop For Good Is Good Business

Shop For Good at Make It Better

Most people want to be connected to a community they trust help and to help others as much as possible.  Just like you – right?

Unfortunately though, most people also are busier than ever, making it harder than ever to connect and help.

Happily, these facts presented Make It Better with a good opportunity to further our mission to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource that helps you make your life and the lives of others better. So we created the ultimate online shopping virtuous circle – connecting our valuable audience to trusted community businesses and paying it forward to carefully vetted nonprofits.Shop for Good at Make it Better.net
Shop For Good.

Best of all, Shop For Good links to our trusted online editorial. In other words, with only a few clicks, you learn up to the minute tips, trends and recommendations, act on them while supporting an outstanding community businesses and help others through the most impactful nonprofits.

Win for you, win for your community, win for the world. Between now and December 31st, the 8 nonprofits which just won our 2014 Philanthropy Awards will receive the 10% donation from Shop For Good proceeds. They are:crushers club

Crushers Club

Phelan Leadership Academies

Refugee One

Refugee One

SitStayRead

Skin of Steel

Sit Stay ReadSolidarity Bridge

Trees That Feed

Also, we proudly announce that the following businesses are participating in our Shop For Good launch:

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa Services

Silver Gemstone Chakra Bracelet by Full Bloomed Lotus

Signature Suede Cape by Mountain Hides

Holiday Candle & Gift by Juniper Boutique

Your Life in Books by Books of Life

Teddie Kossof Bonus Gift by Teddie Kossof Salon Spa

Brighton Pocket Mirror by Mattie M

Shop for Good at Make it Better.netPlease note that we take our mission so seriously that Shop For Good items can include photos of the people who own or run the businesses and other information that will help you feel more connected to and enthusiastic about the business.

You learn that capes are a wearable trend in our article “6 Wearable Fall Trends” http://makeitbetter.net/better-you/6-most-wearable-trends-for-fall-2014/

Shop for Good at Make it Better.net

 

 

 

 

2014 Make It Better Philanthropy Award Winners Announced Today

Here’s a round-up of our 2014 Philanthropy Award Winners, as this exciting day progresses! Congratulations to all and please see the photo gallery below.

Congratulations to , our Most Improved Fundraising Award winner!

And our Environment Award winner is…! Congratulations!Horizon's FY

Our readers voted and gave our first ever Audience Choice Award!

Congratulations to , our Athletic Award winner, here with the Golden Glove champion, too!

We wish we could present this award in person, but our Education-National Award goes to !

Our Human Services Award goes to !

Hank is our first canine winner! Congrats , the inspiring…

Sit Stay Read

receives our Social Justice Award! Thank you for your inspiring work. What an incredible day!