Price working to spotlight sun’s harmful rays
Before enjoying some fun in the sun, Belva Price wants people to realize the damaging - and sometimes deadly - affects the sun can take on humans.
Price knows just how harmful the sun can be. Her husband Lynn died June 5, 2013, due to melanoma. "People just don't understand how deadly melanoma is," Price said.
With May being Melanoma Awareness Month, Price said she hopes her family's story will inspire others to understand melanoma and take preventative steps.
Melanoma is a less common, but very serious form of skin cancer, according to cancer.org. It can appear anywhere on the skin, though it's commonly found on a man's chest or back and on the legs of women.
In 2009, Lynn found a mole on his back. The mole turned out to be melanoma, but had not spread. Doctors removed a softball-sized spot from his back and lymph nodes from his neck and underarm.
"All the results came back clean and they said they got it all," said Price.
Two years later, Lynn went to the doctor for leg pain following a motorcycle accident. An x-ray detected a pea-sized spot under one arm. "It was back," said Price of melanoma.
This time the cancer had spread to Lynn's brain. He would undergo a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments plus five gamma knife surgeries to treat 40 tumors on his brain, Price said.
While melanoma is treatable, once it metastasizes - spreads to other areas of the body - it is tougher to cure.
"It took such a toll on his body," said Price of Lynn weighing 100 pounds in his final months.
Lynn, like many people, spent a lot of time outside in the sun as part of his job. He worked for the city of Barnwell for 16 years plus 15 years prior to that for the highway department.
In the hopes of preventing others from going through what her family has endured, Price encourages everyone to be proactive about their health, including limiting the amount of sun exposure.
When going outside, Price said it's important to lather up with sunscreen to help reduce risk of skin cancer. Tanning beds can also be just as bad. "It only takes one time," she said of sun exposure causing skin cancer.
That's good advice, according to The American Cancer Society.
"The good news is that you can do a lot to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer, or catch it early so that it can be treated effectively. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most of this exposure comes from the sun, but some may come from man-made sources, such as indoor tanning beds," states www.cancer.org.
Sunscreen and other preventative methods aren't 100 percent accurate, which is why Price encourages people to be aware of their bodies, like Lynn was when he found the mole in 2009. If you notice a spot appear on your skin or an existing one change in size, color or shape, Price said it's imperative to seek medical attention.
"You don't need any x-rays or blood tests to find skin cancer early - just your eyes and a mirror. If you have skin cancer, finding it early is the best way to make sure it can be treated with success," states the ACS's website.
The past year hasn't been easy for Price and her family, including son and daughter, but they are keeping Lynn's memory alive.
The second annual Lynn Price Memorial Ride will be held June 7. Anyone wishing to ride to Lynn's graveside should meet at 10 a.m. at the Bamberg Police Department in order to leave at 10:30. They are also planning to ride for a while, including to Walterboro for lunch.
A ceremony will be held at the cemetery consisting of a balloon release, blessing of the bikers and the presentation of two $500 scholarships. While they did a ride last year, the scholarships are new. They will be awarded to two individuals seeking higher education who wrote essays on how they or their family have been impacted by melanoma.
She said awarding scholarships is the perfect way to remember Lynn because he valued education and encouraged his children to earn a degree.
Price also wants to help others who are going through medical issues. Support from family, friends, her church and others in the community is what got her through the loss of Lynn.
That's why she's currently attending classes to become a patient care technician. "It makes me feel worthy of myself," she said of wanting to help others, possibly those in hospice care.
The past year has taught Price the value of family and how "the little things" aren't that important. "Tomorrow may not come. Let's be happy today," she said.
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