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Indoor Tanning: A Parent’s Story As parents there are countless opportunities for worry and fret. It begins with school bullies, and works toward the allure of smoking, the peer pressure to have sex, the dangers of alcohol and drugs and the misuse of a car. However, how many parents would add indoor tanning to that list of possible woes? For parents, Diana and Ralph Neale of Belleville it not only became one more worry to add to the list, but indeed the most threatening of them all. In June, 2011, their daughter, Kate was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. She was only 21. Melanoma is the least common, but most serious form of skin cancer since it can spread in the body. It is now the seventh most frequent cancer in Canada, and it is one of a handful of cancers where the incidence in Canadians continues to increase. Melanoma is most common on the backs of men and on the legs of women, although it can appear anywhere on the skin, including the head and feet. Diana, who is a nurse, said that Kate, with her blond hair, blue eyes and freckles, is so fair that she could never sit outside in the sun without burning. “I remember sitting outside in the sun one May day and Kate had jeans on, with rips in them. That night she said, ‘look at my leg,’ and it had blistered where the rips were.” She was so sensitive to the sun she just couldn’t sit out without burning, so she didn’t. “When she turned 16, that was the time that they were touting that if you went indoor tanning, you could get a base and you wouldn’t burn and she said, ‘I want to try it.’ So that is how it started.” She wanted a tan, and at the time it was promoted that getting a base tan was safer for you – that it prevented cancer. But soon Kate’s tanning turned from 10 tans before vacationing to every week. By 18 she was working at the tanning salon and tanning up to 16 times a month. Her mother notes, “We weren’t aware of the inherent dangers of tanning beds at that time but we were concerned that with Kate’s fair skin that tanning was not good for anyone so fair. We were also concerned that she said she needed to look tanned to work at the salon. Kate was convincing, that based on the seminars and training she had that it was very safe, safer then the sun.” By the time she was 21, she was at the dermatologist’s office hearing these words,

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By sherry tompkins

Kate Neale shows her scar from the removal of malignant melanoma.

Healthy Living Now - June 2012 Issue  

June 2012 issue of Healthy Living Now