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It’s All Sunshine and Rainbows Until…

By Bella Thomas

This Happened To Me
In May 2019, my father was diagnosed with skin cancer. He noticed a spot developing on his
nose, so he scheduled an appointment to have it checked out. This spot turned out to be basal
cell carcinoma. Later that year in August, my mother was also diagnosed with basal cell
carcinoma during a routine dermatology visit. This spot was located on the back of her shoulder,
making her virtually unaware of any abnormalities. While my dad was able to have his skin
cancer spot removed in a simple procedure at the dermatologist’s office, my mom had a different
experience. She had to undergo a more in-depth procedure since the spot was somewhat
large. Now, my mom has a scar on her shoulder from the procedure. While both of my parents
were able to have their spots removed and recover, not everyone is so lucky.


My Story is Not Unique, Here’s the Problem
One person dies from skin cancer every 50 minutes (3). Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin
cancer that develops in the basal cells of the epidermis and accounts for nearly 80% of skin
cancers (1). Because this type remains relatively superficial, basal cell carcinoma does not
typically spread to other tissues (1). Basal cell carcinoma can be the result of prolonged sun
exposure, so common places for these spots to occur include the head, neck, and arms (5).
This type of carcinoma is more common in people with fair skin, but it does not discriminate (4).
Each year, there are over 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma in the United States alone (2).
While it is rare, basal cell carcinoma can spread to other tissues in the body if
left untreated (2). Treatments for basal cell carcinoma include cryotherapy, laser treatments,
surgery, and chemotherapy (2). As for prevention measures, there are relatively simple actions
that one can take to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Avoiding sun exposure during the hours of
10am to 4pm, routinely using sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, and avoiding tanning beds
are recommendations made by Cleveland Clinic (2). Also, making routine dermatology visits is a
great way to keep up with health (3). These dermatology visits are especially important because
30% of melanoma in men occurs on the back, making it difficult for one to detect abnormalities
on themselves (3).


Here is a Non-profit looking to solve that problem
A nonprofit organization looking to solve this problem is Impact Melanoma. Impact Melanoma
started in 1999 as the Massachusetts Melanoma Foundation but has since grown into something
much larger. This nonprofit aims to raise awareness for melanoma and debunk some common
myths and misconceptions about the condition. For example, the website highlights that
melanoma is not just an “old people” cancer, as it is the second most common cancer in the
15-29 age group (3). Impact Melanoma hosts events to spread melanoma awareness and
attempts to implement public policy measures that aim to provide melanoma protection. A public
policy venture they are working on right now is the accessibility of public sunscreen dispensers
(3). Through their partnership with BrightGuard, over 4,000 sunscreen dispensers have been
established for the public to benefit and protect their skin from harmful UV rays (3). Impact
Melanoma even has a way for college students specifically to get involved! Through their
website, students can sign up for the Your Skin is In campaign (6). This campaign features an online course that students can participate in, and it is completely free! Upon completion of this
course, you become a Your Skin Is In ambassador, which is a unique opportunity for those who
are passionate about skin safety to take part in (6). Becoming a skin smart ambassador can
assist students in spreading awareness about melanoma. Impact Melanoma currently has nine
partner universities and institutions that are committed to skin safety (6).


Here’s What You Can Do To Help Right Now!
To help fight this problem, you can donate to Impact Melanoma right from their website at
https://impactmelanoma.org/donate/. With the donations they receive, Impact Melanoma is able
to fund its existing initiatives, such as No Sun for Babies and Safe Skin at Work, and allocate
resources to new programs (3). While the rise of melanoma is not a problem that can be fixed
by one person, change starts at the individual level. From a simple donation to help an
organization fund its programs to becoming a Skin Smart Ambassador yourself, there is a way
for everyone to help fight melanoma.

References

  1. American Cancer Society. (2019, July 26). What Are Basal and Squamous Cell Skin
    Cancers? | Types of Skin Cancer. American Cancer Society.
    https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/about/what-is-ba
    sal-and-squamous-cell.html
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, August 31). Basal Cell Carcinoma: Causes, Symptoms &
    Treatment. Cleveland Clinic.
    https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4581-basal-cell-carcinoma
  3. Impact Melanoma – IMPACT Melanoma. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from
    https://impactmelanoma.org
  4. Melanoma Incidence and Mortality, United States–2012–2016 | CDC. (2019, June 27).
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uscs/about/data-briefs/no9-melanoma-incidence-mortality-UnitedStates-2012-2016.htm
  5. Types of skin cancer. (2022). American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/types/common
  6. Your Skin is In. (2022). IMPACT Melanoma. https://impactmelanoma.org/your-skin-is-in/

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