Local man shares story during Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and one local man is sharing his aggressive battle with melanoma in the hopes he can win the fight, and convince more people to wear sunscreen.

As the weather warms up, and the sun comes out, so can harmful UV rays. If you are thinking of skipping the sunscreen, think again.

“One bad sunburn as a kid can double or triple your chances of getting melanoma as an adult,” Billy Rinn points out, whose bad sunburn from childhood is now threatening his health decades later.

The Roanoke resident was diagnosed last month with stage four metastatic melanoma, a skin cancer that spread throughout his abdomen, lungs, and lymph nodes.

“This probably happened when I was a young child right before teenager and it just showed up when I was 40. Twenty-five years later, you have melanoma, so it just hides and you don’t know until you know.”

Experts with Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine say melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in America, and sunscreen is the best form of prevention.

“Approximately 20% of individuals will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lifetimes, about three million people get skin cancer a year,” adds Dr. Mariana Phillips.

“Between May and October, sunscreen should be worn daily, and the American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30, and we prefer sunscreens labeled broad spectrum.”

Rinn is thankful for the encouragement and efforts of others, adding “The outpouring of support and people saying they’re going to be there has just been overwhelming. Do everything you can to cover up, hat, sunscreen, glasses to prevent it all.”

During the next few months, Rinn will be traveling back and forth to New York City for treatment. Meanwhile, the community is also joining in to help by creating t-shirts to help raise money for Rinn’s medical costs.

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