HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - More billboards to help bring awareness to the dangers of melanoma are seen across Michigan.
The signs feature a picture of Jillian Hayes, a Hudsonville native who died last year from the cancer, and this statement --
"MELANOMA awareness - Is your tan worth DYING for? Melanoma is not "JUST" Skin Cancer. It IS Cancer. Supported by the Jillian Hayes Foundation"
The first billboard was put up in Bay City -- the hometown of Jillian's widower.
Now more billboards are being seen across the state, including these locations in West Michigan --
- Digital - Northbound U.S. 131 north of 28th Street in Grand Rapids, until May 12
- Vinyl - Northbound U.S. 131, south of 28th Street, in Grand Rapids, until May 26
- Digitial – Westbound M-6 east of Kalamazoo Avenue in Kentwood, until May 26
- Digital – Southbound U.S. 131 west of West River Drive in Comstock Park, until May 26
- Digital – Northbound I-196 east of Chicago Drive in Wyoming, until May 26
- The billboard is a mission from Hayes' mother, Susan, who also started Jilly's Jems, making jewelry to raise money toward awareness and treatment for melanoma.
In July 2009, tests on a mole on Jillian's back resulted in a melanoma diagnosis.
A large portion of the surrounding area was excised, and two lymph nodes were removed. Results from the surgery showed the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes were clean, and free from cancer, according to the Jilly's Jems Facebook page.
One year later, during a routine visit, her surgeon suggested a PET scan. From that scan it was discovered that Jillian had a tumor on her liver, and two more small tumors, one on each lung. Jillian then had surgery to remove half her liver and several tumors that were found on her brain.
In April 2010, Jillian began a BRAF clinical trial at the University of Michigan. For several months, she responded to the trial drug.
On Sept. 23, 2010, one day before her 21st birthday, Jillian was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma.
In October 2010, Jillian's scans revealed two of her brain tumors had grown, along with several new ones. After consulting with several doctors, Jillian completed 10 days of full brain radiation in preparation for a new FDA-approved drug.
Jillian lost her battle to cancer on Dec. 29, 2012, two months after her wedding at the age of 23. Her doctors blamed her years of tanning.
Watch the video above as Susan Hayes discusses the latest developments with the Jillian Hayes Foundation mission.
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Joshua Hoppe, 30, from Zeeland was a teacher with Hamilton Community Schools.