Wait…May is Melanoma Awareness Month?

May 25, 2011, In: Family Life

We are all aware of Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s October.

Everywhere and everyone is draped in pink. Football players even dawn pink for the occasion. And I think it’s GREAT! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 8 years ago and is a survivor. I think awareness and research are the reasons the survival rate is so high. It’s also the reason my friend’s mom, who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer this past September, is currently beating the disease. In fact, the research has come so far, that traditional chemotherapy is plan D for her. That’s AMAZING! But the causes for breast cancer are unknown. We do not know how to prevent the disease. Maybe it’s genetic, but we’re not really sure.

On the other hand, did you know May is Melanoma Awareness Month? Me either until my father-in-law passed away from metastatic melanoma in April. Melanoma is a cancer that can affect anyone and, as far as we know, it is caused by the sun and tanning beds. This means we have some control over preventing it. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation. We need to protect ourselves and our children from the sun. We also need to stay away from tanning beds. Research shows using a tanning bed before age 30 heightens your risk for melanoma by a shocking 75 percent.

The good news is that we can be smarter and help in the prevention of the disease. And we need to because, while there are several advancements in treatments, melanoma is a very unpredictable disease to treat or cure. This Friday, May 27, is Don’t Fry Day, a day devoted to sun safety awareness and skin cancer prevention.

Please follow these simple sun safety tips this summer to limit your risk of melanoma:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Seek shade if you are outside during these hours.
  • Use sunscreen everyday on exposed skin. Look for ones that offer protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays. You’ll also be warding off wrinkles. Yay for younger looking skin!
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before heading out into the sun. This is enough time to absorb into the upper layers of your skin.
  • Wear sunglasses with proper UV-A and UV-B protection. You will be helping your eyes and the sensitive skin around your eyes. Again, think about reducing crow’s feet! *smiles* for double duty protection.
  • Be sure to protect your children. You look out for their safety when they cross the street, so don’t let them down when it comes to the sun. We get 80% of our lifetime sun exposure by the time we’re 18. Even one severe sunburn can increase our chances of getting skin cancer.
  • Perform self-checks and get a skin cancer screening from a dermatologist. The Road to Healthy Skin Tour is offering free screenings around the country. Click on the link to see if the tour is making a stop near you.
  • And, please, stay out of tanning beds! It’s so easy to get a spray tan instead.
  • For more prevention ideas, visit MelanomaMonday.org. They’re offering 31 ways in 31 days to prevent and detect melanoma.

Let’s make this a successful Melanoma Awareness Month.

Photo Credits:
American Airlines Plane: BriYYZ
Melanoma Bracelet: Cheryl’s Purple Cow Jewelry

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