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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Melanoma Walk for increased awareness of skin cancer

Claudio Cerrillo
People gather at the sign up booth to participate in the 2018 Melanoma Walk. The walk was organized by the University of Arizona Cancer Center and featured many booths, including a cancer screening tent.

Tucson is in the desert, and with the 300+ days of sunshine annually comes the increased likelihoods of tans, sunburns and skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Institute at the University of Arizona Cancer Center hosted its ninth annual Melanoma Walk to raise funds for medical programs for melanoma and other skin cancers and educate the community on the UA Mall Nov. 3.

Participants registered and paid fees, and then they enjoyed music, free food and activities before the walk started at 5 p.m. 

The UA Cancer Center offers educational programs for high schools and teaches students the dangers of skin cancer and benefits of skin care. In addition, their doctors usually treat skin cancer patients.

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According to Denise Spartonos, the community engagement specialist at the SCI, the purpose of the Melanoma Walk is to “bring the awareness of skin cancer.” She said while melanoma can be fateful, people can prevent it if they properly do skin care.

Manon O’Connor, the acting associate vice president at Health Sciences Development, said using sunscreen and covering ones body are effective ways to help prevent melanoma. 

They placed three skin cancer screenings in a tent; doctors checked visitors’ skin conditions to see if they have any problems for free. They also had giveaways, such as free sunscreens and silent auction.

“I think other countries like Australia do a much better job of educating so that people are aware and they know to wear a hat and most kinds of things,” Spartonos said. “We are trying [to educate people].” 

A UA student educational group, Students Are Sun Safe, also built booths to educate visitors on different kinds of sunscreens and medications for different skin types. 

Members of SASS Nicole Darian and Courtney Coombe said SASS, managed by Dr. Robin Harris in the College of Public Health, works with the Cancer Center. Most of the SASS members are students taking Harris’ class or volunteers.

“We do different events,” Darian said. “We go to schools, considering like kindergarten all the way to high school. We go and talk to them … about skin cancer, how to be safe, [products] to use, what to look for [in] sunscreen.”

According to them, there are five things to consider when you choose a sunscreen: broad spectrum protection, SPF, water resistance, ingredients and expiration date.

One, in general, should choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and avobenzone. If you have sensitive skin, are under birth control or in any special situation, you can find different kinds of sunscreen that suit to your condition.  

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O’Connor said most of the participants are melanoma survivors or know family members and others suffering from melanoma for solidarity and support.

Luis Barnett and his family participated for the first time this year. They were wearing the same colorful t-shirt that had “COYO TEAM” printed on its back. “Coyo” is the middle name of his mother, who recently died from melanoma. They decided to come to the event to honor her.

“She was diagnosed in December last year, so it was very recent,” he said. “We knew that it was a really aggressive cancer.”

Barnett said he will continue participating in the Melanoma Walk in the future.

For more information about melanoma and skin care, visit here

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