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Slop on the Sunscreen, it’s “Don’t Fry Day”

May 28, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, many Minnesotans are gearing up to take advantage of the warmer weather with outdoor activities, such as running, gardening, golfing and grilling. To remind folks to protect themselves while having fun in the sun, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has declared today Don't Fry Day.

Matt Flory, director of health care partnerships for the American Cancer Society of Minnesota (ACS), says Minnesotans can use the phrase "slip, slop, slap and wrap" to remember sun safety.

"We use these quick words to help people remember to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on sun glasses, basically to protect their skin against ultraviolet rays by covering up or using suntan lotion, especially SPF 15 or higher."

Skin cancer is very common, but entirely preventable with precautions, according to the ACS. Those who have a family history of skin cancer, plenty of moles or freckles, or a history of severe sunburns early in life are at a higher risk.

Growing up in the Midwest, Mara Mayberry, a survivor of skin cancer, loves every chance she has to get outdoors, but admits that her generation didn't have much awareness of skin cancer.

"There was no such thing as sunscreen back then, and as a red-headed, freckled girl, I had several bad burns along the way, which you recover from and only realize later what impact it has on your skin."

Mayberry had her first run-in with skin cancer in the 1990s with a mole removal. She underwent more serious surgery to remove squamous cell skin cancer in 2004, and says it was a real wake-up call.

"Since that point, I've returned to the dermatologist twice a year for a full body check, and invariably, they find something. So, I've had several treatments to prevent future damage."

Luckily, nothing her doctors have discovered has turned out to be melanoma; the more life-threatening form of skin cancer. But, Mayberry is on a mission to prevent other young women from going through her experience, and touts her new mantra - "porcelain is pretty."

"The impact of skin cancer on your looks far exceeds the beauty of a bronze body. Your skin is the biggest organ of your body and you really have to protect it."

The ACS urges year-round, life-long skin protection. It recommends detecting skin cancer early by recognizing changes in moles and skin growths, and have a physician check out anything that looks unusual.



Sharon Rolenc/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN