The Sunscreen Project: How One Jersey Woman is Making a Difference
Melanoma. It's a scary word for someone who is told they have it, or that a loved one had it.
My father, who passed away seven years ago, was diagnosed with Melanoma when he was in his 60s. He had fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, and he would recall how he would hardly ever wear a shirt in the summer as her was growing up. (This was back in the old days, when kids actually played outside.) He was, unfortunately a prime candidate for Melanoma.
Of course today, there are known precautions we can take - but, many still don't.
Mary Beth Koniecki remembers well when her brother, a police officer, was diagnosed with Melanoma. Working outside, he was often sunburn. His diagnosis came only a year after her own diagnosis. Her father also had Melanoma four times.
Koniecki mentioned her experience with Melanoma:
"I was diagnosed when I was 36 years old. Luckily, I’ve been going to regular skin checks since I was about 16.. I ignored all the warnings about tanning beds and sunburns when I was younger which definitely contributed to developing melanoma. Because of my regular skin checks, my dermatologist was able to spot the irregular looking mole on the back of my shoulder. It was caught early enough that it could be surgically removed. I’m now going to the dermatologist every six months and have had 1-3 biopsies every time I go. Probably twice a year something comes back severely atypical which means they have to go back and take more out. No melanoma in four years though!"
Koniecki said it bothered her that her brother was so careless on the job. When she mentioned sunscreen to him, "He said he simply didn't have any and forgot."
That got her thinking about police officers and the fact that they are often working outside, and most probably don't wear sunscreen.
Shortly thereafter The Sunscreen Project was born. She's been raising money ever since, using the funds to buy sunscreens for local police departments in South Jersey.
She started providing sunscreen to two police departments in Gloucester County. Now a few years later, her project has grown to where she's supplying sunscreen to many departments in New Jersey. She says this year she's delivered over 600 packs of sunscreen.
Her efforts continue, but will only flourish with donations to her non-profit, The Sunscreen Project. The Project's mission is simple: "We want to spread awareness about melanoma and the importance of protecting your skin. To do this, we provide educational material on how to spot skin cancer and provide sunscreen to local public workers and law enforcement."
You can find out more about this worthwhile cause, and even donate by clicking here.
Thanks Mary Beth for what you're doing! You are making a difference!