Enjoy the outdoors – and don’t forget the sunscreen

Free talk | Skin cancer screenings

Sara McKee has spent a good portion of her life outdoors. The Florida native and working mom is a veteran event planner whose job often places her in the crosshairs of the sun’s harmful rays.

At last year’s The Players Championship, a four-day, PGA Tour golf tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, McKee was in charge of setting up free skin cancer screenings, co-sponsored by Baptist Health and Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center. As golf fans lined up for the walk-up screenings near the 16th hole, McKee marveled at how they had no qualms about getting their skin checked.

“That would have been something way out of my comfort zone,” recalled McKee, who grew up in central Florida and spent two years as a special events coordinator for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But after witnessing the large turnouts at the screening tent, McKee, who has a history of non-melanoma skin cancer in her family, knew she needed to get her skin looked at, too. Last September, the 41-year-old mother of two booked an appointment with Kristen Stewart, MD, the same dermatologist who performed last year’s free screenings at The Players.

Once in the exam room, McKee directed Dr. Stewart to something suspicious on her scalp. “And, sure enough, it was basal cell carcinoma,” said McKee, who was shocked to learn she had two other suspicious spots on her body – one on her chest and another on an ankle. “I have always been very diligent about using sun block, but that was my ‘Aha!’ moment.”

Dr. Stewart referred McKee to a surgeon, Scott Warren, MD, at First Coast Mohs, where she had three low-risk lesions surgically removed last fall.

McKee’s oldest son plays travel ball—which means she spends many weekends around sunbaked baseball diamonds that offer little to no shade. “I’m obsessed with sunscreen,” she said. “My boys have a meltdown every time I put it on them, but, when they complain, I remind them of the scar on my chest and why I’m doing it.”

Although McKee’s skin cancer was not malignant, it still left a mark on her psyche. “They took a large margin of scalp off my head and it’s taken a long time for the hair to grow back, which is always an area of concern for a woman,” she added. “You can have these lesions removed but you don’t realize the impact it can have on your body.”

McKee’s brush with skin cancer convinced her husband, Brett, a project manager for Baptist Health, to get his skin examined by Dr. Stewart, who has a specific interest in skin cancer prevention, surveillance and treatment. “She removed two of his moles that looked suspicious,” McKee said.

Baptist MD Anderson offered free skin cancer screenings at The Players Championship on May 11-14, 2017.

Don’t miss Dr. Stewart’s free talk at 4HER Wellness Wednesdays at the Riverside Y on June 28, 2017.

Dr. Stewart will be doing private skin cancer screenings at Girls’ Day Out, August 26, 2017.

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