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Sycamore Middle School students learn the dangers of self-tanning

SYCAMORE – Jana Roe used to use a tanning booth any time she could, but after finding out she had skin cancer she knew things had to change. She took control of her tanning addiction and started fighting the cancer.

For the past seven years, she’s discussed her addiction with Sycamore Middle School students to let them know the dangers of tanning beds and why people should use protection when lounging in the sun.

“I made the choices,” she said to students at Sycamore Middle School Tuesday. “I made the decisions, so I have to deal with the consequences.”

Pam Nelson, health and physical education teacher the school, said Roe has impacted the lives of about 2,100 eighth-grade students: about 300 per year.

The change began in August 2011 after Roe went to the doctor because she had what she thought was a wart on her back. The doctor saw the spot on her back and immediately told her to go to surgery. Soon after, Roe received a call that she had Basal cell carcinoma — a form of skin cancer.

Roe said finding out about the cancer was not her turning point and neither were the treatments, which burn her skin. It was a question her doctor posed.

“She asked me a question,” Roe said. “She saved my life that day. She asked me if I was willing to die?”

Roe’s treatment started in October that year.

She told students about the different treatments and surgeries she’s gone through – and the cost, which totals more than $75,000 — to fight her cancer.

Late into her presentation, she held up a bottle of children’s sunscreen, which she uses for protection. She asked the students how much they thought it was. The sunscreen was about $10, she said. She said she wished she just used that instead and then urged the eighth-graders to do the same.

Roe also showed the students the cream she uses daily to fight Actinic Keratosis — which is a precancer from which she also suffers. The precancer results from long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. She said she uses it all over at a cost of $1,900 per month.

“This cream doesn’t make me young again,” she said. “This cream doesn’t take away wrinkles. Guess what this cream does? It has one purpose: To burn my skin.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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