Letter: Stay safe from the sun
I want to thank Aspen’s City Council and Environmental Health Department for bringing awareness to melanoma and other skin cancers. June has been declared Sun Safety Month, and in recognition, all month long, you can pick up a free sunscreen sample on the second floor of City Hall. Four years ago, at the ripe age of 30, I was diagnosed with multiple melanomas. Let’s just say becoming a cancer survivor in your early 30s is eye-opening. I’ve never used a tanning bed (which exponentially increases your risk of cancer), but I never regularly wore sunscreen, either. The price I’ve paid are multiple scars you can see and some you can’t, quarterly visits to my dermatologist and the fear that I might not be so lucky next time. Rates for melanoma in all the counties in the valley are higher than the state. In Pitkin County there is a 40 percent higher rate of melanoma than the state, but we also have an 85 percent higher rate of early detection.
I was fortunate that my melanomas were caught early, and now you’ll see me most summer days lathered up in sunscreen with a jacket and floppy hat to stay safe from the sun’s rays. You don’t think cancer happens to you until it does. Protect yourself from melanoma and other skin cancers — get your skin checked by a dermatologist, wear a hat or other sun-protective clothing outside, and wear your sunscreen. I thank my lucky stars for Dr. Kelly Thomas, who found my melanoma at a routine health fair and who has helped me keep perspective through biopsies and surgeries over the past four years. I see her again at the end of June — I hope you’ll commit to seeing a dermatologist for a skin scan for Sun Safety Month, too. For more information on skin cancer, visit http://www.skincancer.org, and to set up a visit with Kelly, who is amazing, contact Glenwood Medical Associates.
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