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Long before I was born, back when my parents were dating my mom noticed a strange mole on my dad’s back. He didn’t think it was a big deal but she was quickly concerned and told him to get it checked out. Sure enough, it turned out to be a bad case of melanoma. He had to have surgery to remove it and it left him with a huge thick scar. It runs down most of his back to the right of his spine.

I am reminded of this story constantly during the summer, and it honestly scares me every time that I think about it. I know that because I have a strong family history for melanoma, which all of my grandparents have had by now as well, I am at risk for getting it too. However, the fact that my parents have always been on my back about protecting myself against the harmful sun rays gives me hope that I will be okay. My Dad's scar is a good reminder to be cautious.

Being a redhead, I am constantly reminded that my pale skin is very susceptible to sun damage. Starting in the Spring, my parents always tell me as I’m about to go outside, “Remember your sunscreen!” Going to the beach or pool, I hear, “You better be wearing a swim shirt and a hat!” Through my involvement in the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, I am now able to better understand the real dangers of melanoma and how it may be prevented. I have learned that sunscreen, hats, and swim shirts may be a pain, but they really are useful in preventing painful sunburns and lowering the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. I have also learned the importance of checking my skin for changes.

I am so thankful that my mom was able to catch my dad’s cancerous mole before he got sick. Thank you, Dad for being an amazing father and role model. Happy Father’s Day!

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