Jeff Nygaard is a three-time Olympian volleyball player, seven-time AVP Open Champion, two-time MVP and NCAA Champion and a melanoma survivor. He is currently a professional beach volleyball player and a member of the Board of Directors of the Sun Safety Alliance.
Skin Cancer Prevention
As a professional volleyball player, I spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun. From practice and competition to a family outing at the beach, being outside in direct sunlight is a huge part of my everyday life. Last year, however, I was faced with the harsh reality of sun exposure-I was diagnosed with carcinoma and melanoma, two types of skin cancer.
This painful realization of the inconsistency between my image as a healthy, tan beach athlete and where I found myself after my diagnosis really focused my priorities. My education of sun safety came quickly, but not as quickly as the desire to educate others so that they may never find themselves in the situation I was in. By serving on the Board of Directors of the Sun Safety Alliance, I am now in a better position to help spread the word and educate people across the country on the effects of the sun.
My personal experience with skin cancer and my position as a professional beach volleyball player presents me with a great opportunity to reach out and educate people about the importance of sun safety. The truth is that there are 1.2 million people diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and melanoma kills one person every hour.
Improving public awareness will help reduce skin cancer rates by informing people on the ways that they can protect themselves from overexposure and help bring the statistics down. Unfortunately, in some adults, the damage has already been done. However, it is never too late to start practicing sun safety, and it is especially important that parents keep their children informed and protected.
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR BEING SUN-SAFE
- Remember that the sun is strongest between 10:00AM and 4:00 PM.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses
- Remember that UV rays bounce off of sand, snow, concrete, and water
- Do not use tanning beds or sun lamps
- Keep very young children (6 months or less) out of the sun
- Provide complete sunscreen coverage for your skin (including neck, ears, and lips)
- Sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly over all exposed areas
- Use sunscreen SPF 30 or higher
- Use lipbalm with SPF 15 or higher
- Apply sunscreen before going outdoors and reapply often
- Reapply sunscreen after swimming, perspiring, and toweling off
- Stay in the shade whenever possible
I continue to compete in beach volleyball, and I continue to refuse to let cancer stop me from living my life. Armed with the proper knowledge about sun safety and the best ways to protect myself, I can focus on my career-and on raising awareness about preventable skin cancers caused by the sun. My goal is reach young parents, children and teens and ideally see the fans of Beach Volleyball who attend our competitions realize that being red as a lobster by the end of the day is not healthy and is a dangerous behavior putting them at risk for skin cancer. The key message I hope to impart is that sun safety can help curb a significantly preventable disease so...learn, don't burn!
For more information about skin cancer prevention and sun safety, please visit: www.sunsafetyalliance.org.
Created: 6/1/2008  - Donnica Moore, M.D.