At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Malignant Melanoma. My
Oncologist informed me that I had a 5 year survival rate of 50%. I quickly
decided what side of that 50% I wanted to be on. As a child, I grew up
spending my summers in the sun. We had a pool in our backyard that I was in
all day everyday. My “sun protection” was to wear a T-shirt over my bathing
suit. As a fair-skinned, redhead my skin had three shades, white, pink or
freckled. I never thought about the damage the sun was doing to my skin.
As the years went by from my original diagnosis, I felt that I needed to
spread the word about sun protection but didn’t quite know how. My sister
teaches second grade at an elementary school in Akron, Ohio so I asked her
if I could come speak to her class about sun protection. So, three years
ago on Melanoma Monday, I did my first presentation to her class. I had
each student make a UV bead necklace to help remind them to protect
themselves. I partnered with UV Skinz who provided fun coloring and
activity pages filled with skin protection information.
Since then, I have returned each year to my sister’s classroom on the first
Monday in May to spread the news about being safe in the sun. This year
through the generosity of UV Skinz, I was able to provide each student with
an umbrella hat and gave one lucky boy and girl a UV Skinz swim shirt. If I
am able to reach at least one child and keep them from hearing the words,
“you have skin cancer”, it will be worth it.