Cry of the Hawk

The student news site of North Harford High School

Cry of the Hawk

Cry of the Hawk


Should the northern Harford County area have its own 'snow zone' for inclement weather days?

  • YES (92%, 60 Votes)
  • NO (8%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 65

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Terrific treatments: Teen creates cancer-treating soap

 Cancer: A disease that kills millions of people each year. reports that One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.” Most people who get this type of cancer have been excessively exposed to harmful rays from the Sun. This was the inspiration for Heman Bekele, a 14–year-old boy from Virginia who created a soap that can be used to treat Melanoma. 

      Bekele was born in Ethiopia, before moving to the United States when he was four; during his time in Ethiopia, he saw many people being exposed to the sun for long periods of time, and the heightened risk they were at for skin cancer. “I think it’s crazy that one in five people can develop skin cancer. It’s honestly scary.” says Julianna Chaney, Senior.

     Bekele decided to do something about this problem.  “Health CostHelper⁶ estimates the total cost of treating skin cancer to range from $400–$50,000 if you do not have health insurance. With health insurance, you can expect to pay copayments of anything from 10%–50% of the cost, depending on your health insurance policy.” says health

     This was the inspiration for Bekele’s project. He wanted to create an affordable treatment for Melanoma that everyone could access. His solution was to make the treatment into a bar of soap, which he calls MTS [Melanoma Treatment Soap]. While this soap isn’t FDA-certified yet, Bekele said in an interview with NPR he plans to have it ready to distribute by 2028. He plans to start a non-profit organization so that he can reach as many people as possible.   “That’s pretty remarkable. One considering how young he is. And two, to be that selfless and create something to help others who are suffering,” says Mrs. Phillips, English teacher. 

     At the start of the experimentation process, Bekele started off making soap in his kitchen and basement, but soon realized he needed more help. He reached out to a couple different colleges for assistance in further testing of his MTS. He credits Deborah Isabelle as his biggest helper.

      Isabelle eventually became Bekele’s mentor when he entered the 3M Young Scientists challenge, a contest dedicated to encouraging kids to pursue unique solutions to everyday problems. According to and interview with NPR, Bekele said, “I was so shocked and so happy. It was honestly an incredible experience, and there were stages to it as well. I found out I was a finalist and even being in that top 10 was the greatest feeling ever. Every single finalist is so smart and in their own ways. 

     More than competitors, to me they were really close friends.” But he achieved even more when he came out on top as the winner of the competition, and was named “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The prize for winning first place is $25,000, which Bekele plans to use to continue his career in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] and save some of it for college. “I think it’s incredible that someone of such a young age was able to develop an easy, affordable way to treat cancer when people 2 to 3 times his age could not.” states Faith Perrone, sophomore.

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