Boy, was my face red

Thursday, April 16, 2015

First, a word of introduction: My name is John Carney. I normally work at the newspaper over in Shelbyville, but I'm filling in for a few weeks here at the Tribune. I hope to meet lots of you; please feel free to call me if there's anything I can do for you.

Anyway, back in Shelbyville I'm a member of the county organizing committee for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, a cause that means a great deal to me since I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer in 2010.

Last Saturday our Relay committee hosted Bedford County's first-ever Bark For Life, a dog-themed cancer society fundraiser. Unlike Relay For Life, which is held on an overnight schedule, this event took place during broad daylight.

I and my fellow committee members showed up bright and early at 7:30 a.m. to help get the site ready, and some of our participating vendors started rolling in soon after. The event ran from 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m.

When it was over, as we were tearing down, several of us on the committee made an unpleasant discovery. We were somewhat red-faced -- both literally and metaphorically.

Yes, we are all devoted American Cancer Society volunteers, working to fight cancer, but several of us -- I'll say most of us -- neglected to follow one of the cancer society's most frequent and easiest-to-follow recommendations: Use sunscreen.

Our Relay committee members were somewhat chagrined that we failed to set an example or follow the advice of the organization we spend so much time helping. Physician, heal thyself, as the old saying goes.

Even though our Relay event takes place largely at night, teams are setting up their booths all day, and we're already talking about setting up a sunscreen station at Relay to make it easy for people to protect themselves.

According to the American Cancer Society website,, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, with over 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year. Out of those, 73,000 are melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. About 13,000 people die from skin cancer each year, 10,000 of those from melanoma.

Yes, it can be painful and unpleasant to get a sunburn, but cancer is the real risk. And ultraviolet rays are a proven contributing factor to skin cancer. It's easy to protect yourself from UV rays but, as I and my fellow volunteers discovered, it's also easy not to.

ACS has a saying: 'Slip, slop, slap and wrap.' You can protect yourself from ultraviolet rays when you slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap a pair of sunglasses around your head.

As for me, I'll be working at another outdoor fundraiser this weekend, and you can be sure I'll slather myself with sunscreen early and reapply it often (ACS recommends every two hours; check the directions on your particular product). ACS recommends a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above. Sunscreen alone may not be sufficient, so hats and other cover-ups may be needed. Slip, slop, slap and wrap.

By the way, the chemical compounds in sunscreen can break down over time, so if you've had a tube of sunscreen sitting around for a couple of years, especially if you've stored it in your glove compartment or some other high-heat environment, it might be a good idea to throw it out and start with a fresh supply for the new year.

As we try to forget about a nasty winter and look forward to sunny weather and outdoor activities, it's important to be safe.