Skin cancer victim: Protect against sun

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor
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Mark Samson tells his story of battling skin cancer.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Living in Florida has its benefits: beautiful beaches, warm weather and sunny skies. But it's those sunny skies that can be dangerous if you don't take preventive measures, such as applying sunscreen.

Mark Samson has spent the last 45 years enjoying the sun in north Florida. Samson, the public information officer for St. Augustine police, has been battling skin cancer in the public eye for decades and he has a message he wants to share.

"Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen; I don't go anywhere without either one now," he said. "Should have done it a long time ago."

Samson was 20 years old the first time he had a cancerous spot removed from his face.

"I was 20, I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof, and you know, 'Just take it off, it will be fine,' not realizing at that point I should have been sunscreen on and I didn't," Samson said. "And at 55, I'm certainly paying the price."

His cancer got so out of control the last two years he's now doing radiation treatments at Flagler Hospital.

"Used to go to the beach every day and hang out at the beach surfing, skim boarding, riding motorcycles, all that stuff," Samson said. "I never wore sunscreen. My mom told me every day, 'Put it on, put it on,' and I never did."

It's not just skin on your face you have to worry about. When it comes to getting sun burned, you can also get burned on your lips or your ears.

"You never want to get to the point to where you need to have extensive surgeries, chemo, radiation, because something as simple as applying sun block routinely," said Nicole Anderson, a radiation oncologist at Flagler Hospital.

Dermatologists say there are plenty of ways to prevent skin cancer. Get a routine full-body check by a dermatologist. Wear sunscreen, hats and sunglasses anytime you are exposed to the sun. And avoid sun bathing and tanning beds.

Anderson spoke about how severe skin cancer can actually be.

"When it's repeated exposure, repeated damage that's being done, at some point your body has a hard time repairing that," she said.

Dermatologists say remember to put sunscreen on if you just plan to go outside for a little bit because you can get sun burned in as little as 15 minutes.

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