Don’t FryDay

When I first began dating Jason, the man who later became my husband, I noticed a small spot on his back that didn’t look right to me. It was scaly, with an irregular shape. He admitted sometimes it was itchy and bled a little. I immediately recognized the warning signs of skin cancer.

I had grown up with an awareness of skin cancer because an astute physician had noticed and treated a developing melanoma on my father’s leg when he was still in his late twenties. Early detection is essential with melanoma because it’s very treatable when it’s caught early, but quite deadly when it isn’t. My father simply had the offending spot removed from his leg, and he was able to go on with his life. He’s 78 now, and he still goes to the dermatologist every few months for regular body scans to identify and remove any early signs of skin cancer.

As for Jason, he was young and not terribly concerned about the spot on his back, so I ended up discussing it with his mother the first time I met her. She made an appointment for him with her dermatologist, who agreed the spot needed to be removed immediately. A day later, the dermatologist called back, confirmed the melanoma diagnosis and instructed Jason to call a melanoma surgeon who was waiting for his call to schedule further surgery. In the end, Jason had a section of skin removed from his back in the size and shape of a football, as well as a few lymph nodes under each armpit. Although the surgery and recovery were painful, and Jason bears some enormous scars on his midsection, he survived and thankfully has been cancer-free ever since.

Most skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, tanning beds or sunlamps. Protecting your skin from UV rays with sunscreen, shade or clothing goes a long way toward preventing skin cancer.

The month of May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has proclaimed the Friday before Memorial Day weekend as Don’t FryDay to serve as a reminder to all of us to enjoy the sun safely as the summer season gets underway. In honor of Don’t FryDay, we’re posting a little early this week to amplify the Don’t FryDay message:

  1. Skin cancer is by far America’s most common cancer, with one American dying every hour of melanoma. But the great news is that early detection saves lives and that is why raising awareness with events such as Don’t FryDay are so important.
  2. Friends can encourage and remind each other to stay safe in the sun. We can share tips with each other about products or sun-safe clothing. My two favorite sunscreen brands are Beautycounter and Elta. What are yours?
  3. Skin cancer often occurs on the back, and your friends can see your back easier than you can. If you notice something unusual on someone’s back, tell them!

The LOF team wishes you a very happy and sun-safe Memorial Day weekend!

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