A speech bubble floating above a man contains sunscreen, a megaphone, and a hat.

Aware and Alert, Skin Cancer Is No Joke

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. This means different things to different people. I want to take a more active role this year because the lockdown has provided me more opportunities to go and enjoy the great outdoors and I imagine this is true of others as well. As a wildlife photographer, I spend countless hours tracking eagles, foxes and alike. I can get lost in my fun and not even realize that I have just spent a good chunk of my day in direct sunlight or in reflected light from a lake. I lose awareness of the risk under which I am putting myself.

Practical ways to make others aware of skin cancer

Once I am aware that I am putting myself at risk and am alerted to its dangers, I change my behaviors. But, what about others? What are ways in which I can make my friends, family and acquaintances more aware of their sun exposure and its related risks? Here are some practical ways to raise awareness and alert others.

  • Pass out sunscreen. This is a great opportunity to share a bit about good skin care practices.
  • When invited to/ or organizing “fun in the sun” activities with others, gently suggest the safest times and locations possible as a way to bring attention to skin cancer prevention.
  • Bring extra hats, parasols (umbrellas), coverups for others at picnics, cookouts, etc. People appreciate thoughtful gestures.
  • Refer others to trusted medical professionals for immediate attention.
  • Be prepared to refer people skincancer.net and other sites, such as skincancer.org for more information and community involvement.
  • Look for ways to more formally advocate for safe skin care practices through health fairs, religious and civic groups, and local, regional and state initiatives.
  • Connect with reputable local charities that raise awareness and funding for skin cancer research and treatment.
  • Start with those closest to you. Family/friend meals are good times to bring awareness and gently remind those you love about ways to protect themselves.

Skin cancer awareness: The gentle approach

Awareness does not mean annoyance. I try to be sensitive in how and when I communicate with others. I don’t want my passion to help others turning them off to my message.

Here are some tips for raising awareness during Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

  • Be informed (will garner respect)
  • Be humble (the message is more readily accepted, if they like the messenger)
  • Be a good listener (ask questions)
  • Be sensitive (know when is the right and wrong time to talk)
  • Smile (it will go a long way)

Skin cancer prevention begins with good habits

I know that good sun care practices are important year round, but for me (in New York) May is the beginning of being out in the sun when its rays are most dangerous. People are putting away their sweaters and parkas and pulling out their t-shirts and shorts. It is a great time to make people aware of the dangers of skin cancer and start the summer with good habits. This begins with awareness. One small behavioral change can become habitual over time and that can make all the difference.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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