By Kim Lyle
Lauren Savoy Olinde was 24 years young when diagnosed with stage III Melanoma Skin cancer. Raised in Baton Rouge and a proud graduate of LSU, Lauren was in her first year of Pharmacy School at ULM Monroe when she noticed a sore spot on her scalp that bled when she brushed her hair.
Skin cancer may not be a cause of concern for most 20-somethings, but it should be. What happened to Laura is not that unusual—melanoma is the most common form of cancer affecting young adults aged 24 to 29. However, it is also highly preventable.
Even in the early stages of her diagnosis, Lauren was thinking of others. She hoped to spread awareness about the cancer’s prevalence among young adults and offer knowledge on prevention strategies.
This is where The Hat Run comes in.
“Lauren gave the race the name the Hat Run,” said Sarah Lomax Gray, the founder and executive director of the Lauren Savoy Olinde Foundation. “ It’s a fun reminder for people to wear hats and other protective gear while playing in the sun.”
The race was grounded in the idea that if people knew how to protect themselves, then skin cancer would no longer be a fatal threat.
“With the knowledge of what the warning sings of melanoma are and what skin cancer looks like, we can prevent skin cancer from becoming a death sentence and instead just a little scar that reminds you that you may have gotten a few too many sunburns,” said Gray.
The race will include a wacky 5k and 1-mile fun run in which all participants are encouraged to wear a hat. There will also be free skin cancer screenings by local dermatologists for everyone, even those not participating in the event. American Idol participant Michael Liuzza and Café au Laits will provide live music alongside free food and a plethora of fun activities for the kids.
The race will kick off this Saturday, April 25, at 8 AM. The startling line will be at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center on 6400 Perkins Road, and since the course is stroller-friendly, all ages are invited to participate.
To register visit www.thehatrun.com, tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youth (14 and younger). Prices will increase on the day of the event, so be sure to purchase them ahead of time and have a crazy hat ready.
Since skin cancer can affect anyone with skin it’s important to protect yourself. Below are some tips for minimizing exposure to UV rays.
No tanning beds. The UV rays from tanning beds are more intense than the sun’s rays. The World Health Organization has grouped tanning beds with UV radiation, plutonium, and cigarettes as the most dangerous cancer-causing substances.
Wear sunscreen daily. Use a light sunscreen, SPF 15, for daily use and a Broad Spectrum 30+ SPF if you will be in the sun longer than 30 minutes.
Seek shade. The sun’s rays are strongest during midday, so try and find shade to limit your exposure.
Cover up. Wear protective clothing with a tight weave to have maximum protection against the sun’s UV rays.
Get a hat. The head and neck are common sites for skin cancer to occur, so wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect these areas.
Grab shades. Wear UV blocking lenses to protect sensitive skin around the eyes.
For more detailed information on prevention, signs of skin cancer, and treatment, visit aad.org (American Academy of Dermatology) and sign up for the Hat Run.