Why Everyone should be scared out of their mind about melanoma

This is a guest post by my daughter, Zooey. She was working on her eighth grade English writing project and her legacy project that was inspired by her grandfather (my dad, Bill Wood, who is fighting Melanoma).

Imagine spending all day out in the sun without any sunscreen. Sounds pretty innocent doesn’t it? That one day in the sun can give a sunburn that can haunt a person the rest of their life. Most people don’t relaize how dangerous it is to spend all day out in the sun without sunscreen. Even if you’re outside on a cloudy day, it is always really important to protect the skin. This is important because of a really bad skin cancer called Melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when cells give skin a tan or a brown color. Melanoma can easily develop when skin is exposed to sun or tannning beds for long amounts of time. Researchers studying Melanoma realized that the more sunscreen that is worn, the less chance there is of getting Melanoma. People should also limit the amount of time that they’re outside and wear appropriate clothing like sun shirts and hats.

According to Melanoma Research Foundations, Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race or gender. Everyone is at risk but catching it early could save your life. Prevention is key. For example, if a small mole gets bigger and turns a different color, go to a doctor immediately. The sooner it’s treated, the better chance of the cancer going away. It’s a good idea to start taking care of the skin while young so healthy habits are made for a lifetime.

Right now there are many people who have been fighting this disease for years. Bill Wood is one of them. Bill Wood has been fighting Melanoma for many years and is currently talking to UNC and MD Anderson Cancer Center about another treatment option. In an interview with his granddaughter, Zooey, her shared the best way to prevent skin cancer and this is what he said:

Q: “What causes Melanoma?”

A: “Exposure to the sun without skin protection (either by sunscreen or clothing). No one knows exaclty how long the exposure must be to cause Melanoma but generally it can occur over long periods of time. As a cumulative effect of exposure to the sun.”

Q: “How do you think you got Melanoma?”

A: “When I was a young boy, I spent lots and lots of time outside without a shirt or a hat and wearing shorts while I played sports and spent time at the pool. When I was young, people didn’t know about sunscreen and I was probably thirty years old when I started to use it. I think I got Melanoma from many years of unproteccted exposure to the sun.”

Q: “What could you have done to make yourself safer?”

A: “Always wearing a hat, spending less time in the sun during the middle of the day and wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants would have helped reduce my overall exposure to the sun. I think I would have been safer and could have enjoyed those things.”

So yes, it’s easy to see why people should be scared out of their minds about Melanoma. Learning that this cancer is caused by unprotected exposure to the sun for long periods of time should inspire people to take precautions. By interviewing Bill Wood, readers can learn that they can be safer from the sun by wearing hats, protected clothing and sunscreen. The danger of Melanoma is that it can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly. There is hope that Bill Wood’s next treatment will help him to live longer. It is scary that there is no cure for Melanoma, that’s whey prevention at a young age is imperative.