HAMMOND | Siblings tend to share a lot. Just ask Milan and Dan Kesic of Northwest Indiana. Not only are they brothers, the two are business partners and melanoma cancer survivors.
After finding a large lump in his armpit, Milan was diagnosed with Stage III malignant melanoma in June, 2011. Surgery and treatment immediately followed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Milan insisted that Dan have a mole on his stomach tested because he was convinced that it matched the melanoma pictures that he saw at the medical care center. Even though it had been looked at by a dermatologist a year earlier and considered a birth mark, Dan went back and explained to the doctor what his brother was going through.
Not taking any chances, the mole was tested and the results came back positive as Stage I melanoma. Just one week after his older brother began cancer treatment, Dan had his cancerous skin growth removed.
“I was trying to figure out how I was told I had malignant melanoma only a week after my brother,” Dan said. “It is the craziest thing in the world. I guess it is a blessing in disguise for me. If my brother didn’t go through what he did, I probably wouldn’t have gotten checked out. Who knows, my cancer might have progressed to Stage III or IV before being discovered and I might not be here today.”
Melanoma is a highly aggressive form of skin cancer that can develop anywhere on the body where there is skin. It only accounts for about 5 percent of skin cancers, but causes 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. Each year, 160,000 are diagnosed worldwide with melanoma. There are close to 48,000 deaths annually from the disease.
“I feel lucky to be alive after the cancer was that far along,” Milan said. “When it happens it opens your eyes. Cancer lets you know that you are not invincible and that we all need to help each other.”
In an effort to increase melanoma awareness and raise money in the race to cure this deadly disease, Staff Source, the Hammond-based staffing and recruitment firm owned by Milan and Dan Kesic, as well as Mirko Marich, hosted “Miles for Melanoma,” a 5K run and fun walk this summer at Wicker Park in Highland.
All proceeds will go towards the research that Milan’s oncologist, Dr. Svetomir Markovic, and his team are doing at the Mayo Clinic to find a cure for melanoma.
With a goal of $65,000, the brothers have raised all but $4,057 through the race itself and donations, with four days left to reach their goal. Donations can be made online at www.milesformelanoma.net. All contributions are fully tax deductible as Mayo Clinic is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.
“Dr. Markovic is helping people and he is also trying to find a cure for melanoma and all cancer in general,” Milan said. “He is working day and night on this and he is so close to possibly finding a cure. We need to raise awareness for this disease. We need to help Dr. Markovic. We need to get funds to him and his excellent research.”