As a Native Floridian it has been my duty to live the majority of my life outside in the sun. During my “know it all” teenage years I can clearly remember my mother nagging me, “If you don’t start using sunscreen, your nose is going to fall off!” I would instantly conjure up a horrible picture of myself with a giant hole in my face, and then almost immediately replace that thought with the decision to not wear sunscreen because it would make me breakout. Teenage wisdom is awesome!
It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I started to be more diligent about the “screen”. I remember getting ready for my waitressing shift at Snack Jacks, when a coworker of mine (that I completely looked up too) was doing a facial wrinkle patrol in the mirror. I thought she was nuts for being self conscious about her seemingly flawless appearance. However, it was that insignificant moment in the dish pit that initiated a new item on the up close and personal checklist. Overnight… vanity inspired me to begin a more conscientious routine of moisturizing and sunscreen application. Added to that a particular summer that I burnt my lips so terribly they actually turned purple. It was so severe my dentist (Dr. Lacy) started examining me for cavities and cancer. Since then I often find myself wishing for a pair of wax lips to wear while I surf, which would be pretty hilarious, if it could work.
But succulent lips aside, the moment protection from the sun became very serious happened just a few short years ago, when a buddy of mine passed away from Melanoma at age 28. It was completely heart breaking to watch his life quickly deteriorate from something that could have been prevented. To honor Mike “Bowler” Cristello’s life, family and friends held a fundraiser by selling t-shirts donning his artwork and using the the money to fund a couple surf camp scholarships. It helped ease the pain and spread the message that skin cancer is real. A memorial was also erected and placed next to the Flagler Beach City Library to serve as a reminder that life is precious. For the next several years I hosted the “Shade out Melanoma” fashion show, featuring models who were friends of Bowler’s and skin cancer survivors at Flagler Beach’s First Friday. Free sunscreen was handed out and local Dermatologists were on site with advice for skin cancer prevention. Mike’s brother Nick Cristello, a nursing student at the time, started a melanoma awareness campaign called Wear Black, whose main objective is inspiring folks to GET CHECKED for any signs of skin cancer. It’s been three years now that Bowler has been gone, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of everyone who loved him. This time of year it’s normal to hear me saying “Bowler says wear your sunscreen!” to my children as we make Beach Days a part of our weekly schedule. And since May is Melanoma Awareness Month it also seems completely reasonable to roll out the next campaign for the Flagler Beach All-Stars. The local park where Bowler’s memorial is placed, is in great need of shade. It is the busiest park in town and by mid morning on a bright sunny day it’s virtually unuseable. Thanks to architect Sean Palmer, owner of Palmer Studio, we have come up with a simple plan to put up three sail shades that will help to keep the intense sun rays to a minimum during our hottest months. And they will look cool too! That said, now we need your help. We have determined that $2500.00 should cover the expenses of materials and the City of Flagler Beach has agreed to install the sails once purchased. Several local businesses have also offered to hold fundraisers to help achieve our financial goal! We will begin posting these as soon as we have the details. This is our first big community project and if everyone pitches in just a little it should be a great success! Let’s Shade out Wickline park for the health of our kids…and don’t forget Bowler says “Wear your Sunscreen!”
RIP- Mike “Bowler” Cristello 2-29-2012
Here is a link to the “Bowler Strong” essay contest that was held to award the Surf Camp Scholarships.
- Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
- By 2015, it is estimated that one in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old
- Before age 50, melanoma incidence rates are higher in women than in men, but by age 60, rates are twice as high in men as in women.
- Approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma
- Risk factors for all types of skin cancer include skin that burns easily; blond or red hair; a history of excessive sun exposure, including sunburns; tanning bed use; immune system-suppressing diseases or treatments; and a history of skin cancer.
- Melanoma is highly curable when detected early, but advanced melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, which can result in death.
These facts and more were found here: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/conditions/melanoma-faqs
Here is a compelling video “Dear Sixteen Year Old Me” that will speak to your heart and your mind!
If you are interested in supporting our cause- throw me an email with the subject: Shade out Melanoma- firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for being Here! Cheers, Carla