Ryan Chartrand

When I look in the mirror in the morning, I notice the freckles covering my body. To some, they are just marks, but to me, they represent a scary monster: skin cancer.

I used to be naive about skin cancer. I didn’t realize the marks on my body had an unknown secret. But that all changed last year when my father was diagnosed with stage two melanoma.

There are four stages for diagnosing melanoma, and stage two melanoma means that recovery prognosis is good and that the cancer hasn’t moved into any lymph nodes; but it still means cancer.

The spot, which looked like a harmless mole, was located on his back near his left armpit, and was a little bit bigger than a pencil eraser.

The spot was removed but along with it came off two inches of skin across his back. The doctor also went down into the flesh two inches to remove the root system. The scar on his back is a blatant reminder of what could happen to anyone.

I have had several marks removed off my body and each year I go in to get a checkup. It terrifies me that at any moment, this disease can strike to take over my body and my life.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 62,190 new melanoma cases this year alone. It also estimates that almost 8,000 people will die from melanoma.

The statistics may be overwhelming, but preventing skin cancer isn’t.

The American Cancer Society recommends the use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. It also recommends using a product that is “broad-spectrum” because it protects against both UVA and UVB.

Nowadays, sunscreen is being added to body and face lotions. Lubriderm, Vaseline and Neutrogena are just a few brands that make lotions with sunscreen protection.

The Consumer Search Web site picked Neutrogena’s UVA/UVB Sunblock Lotion as the best overall sunscreen. I’ve used this product, which comes in both a lotion and spray, and recommend it too.

The spray applies evenly, has no scent and doesn’t feel sticky when it makes contact with skin. I also like that it doesn’t run into my eyes and is water-resistant.

Another good sunscreen is Coppertone Sport. It is a little sticky when applied but is good for someone who is athletic because it doesn’t run.

But skin cancer prevention doesn’t end with just lotions and sunscreen. Now there are clothes and tablets that you can add to your clothes to also provide sun protection.

I was watching a Today Show segment on sun protection that noted the average piece of clothing only offers an SPF of three for protection.

I will admit that I used to not wear sunscreen. I have spent more than enough hours in the sun and in tanning beds, but because of my dad’s close encounter, I have changed my attitude towards the sun.

The sun isn’t an inviting, warm object that bathes your body in a golden tan. It harbors a power to change your life and not in a positive way.

Don’t become a statistic. Wear sunscreen and protect yourself against skin cancer.

Jandy Jones is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily staff writer.

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