The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sun can Kill

According to National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cancer of the skin is the most common of all cancers in the United State.” After spending many summers of my childhood basking in the sun, the competition between my friends and I consisted of how fast could we get tan, and who could be the tannest by the end of the summer. Skin cancer was never the topic of conversation when we would strip down to our bathing suits and lather on SPF 8 on our arms, legs and stomach. However, it should be the first thing that comes to mind as we bake our bodies in the southern sun of the country.
Peers of mine and I would always be very conscious of the tan we were working for during our summer vacations from school. We would spend hours on end laying out at the beach or at the local pool—hoping to get tanner as each day passes by. The typical summer day consisted of packing up a lunch and a few bottles of water, getting the tunes ready for the full day of tanning and a few good magazines we could pull out if we woke up from our afternoon naps. We would throw a few bottles of tanning oil and sunscreen in our pool bags. All in all, the sun played the largest role in our summer daily plan.
A few burns once in a while did not seem to hurt our determination to get tan; however, it surely hurt our skin. With each burn, we felt the heat, the pressure, and the pain of the red swelling on our skin. No one ever assumed that burning could lead to death, but as teens get older, the information seems to be more prevalent to the damage we are doing to our bodies. The National Cancer Institute reports that there are several types of skin cancer. For example, “Skin cancer that forms in melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment) is called melanoma. Skin cancer that forms in basal cells (small, round cells in the base of the outer layer of skin) is called basal cell carcinoma.” The deadly sun can cause the skin cancer and the lack of education on it is crucial.
Of course parents and adults always advise young children to lather up with SPF 30 or higher; wear a hat; wear protective clothing and sit under an umbrella while at the beach or the pool. But lets be serious. What 14 year-old girl is going to wear a t-shirt, a sun hat and sit isolated under an umbrella while her friends are backing in the sun, getting the “attractive” tan everyone wishes they had? It is not reasonable, unless everyone is informed that this type of cancer is not just hereditary and it should be taken very seriously. It can happen to anyone, at any time, at any point in their life unless they take care of themselves.
With the encouragement of adults, teachers and parents, each child will not end up baking in the sun until they are leathery brown. The damages to the skin are not worth the summer glow. Maybe my friends and I would not continue this tanning competition every time we are in warm weather. Maybe if I had listened to my parents or adults when I was young, I would not have had to get a dark mole be removed and then told that it was pre-cancerous at the age of 19.

- Monica Augustyn


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