The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer
My husband James grew up in New Mexico. He played outside like all children, skate boarded, played soccer, and was in the marching band drum core at Clovis, NM high school. My husband joined the US Navy in 1991. He worked on the flight line in the sun on those hot tarmacs at NAS Dallas around all the chemicals and exposed to the vaccines they gave the military during the 1st Gulf war. My husband was also the son of a Vietnam vet that was exposed to agent orange before he was conceived. He was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2008 and died almost 2 years to the day of his surgery to remove the tumor.
My James was only 37 years old when he died. His tumor grew on his neck right below his ear and above the collar line of his dungarees he wore in the Navy.
We have suffered emotionally, physically, and financially since my husband’s death. I had to file for bankruptcy because of $400,000 in medical debt. James had no insurance and we qualified for nothing! I lost my children’s father, my husband, our house, savings, and so much more. I had noticed the spot on his neck and asked him to get it checked. He waited too long. It grew from a golf ball size in July of 2008 to softball size by his surgery 9/1/2008. My grand daughter has never met him and he is missed terribly.
The point of sharing our story? Wear your sunscreen, protect your children and apply sunscreen, learn sun safety, wear hats and sun protective clothing, limit your exposure during days and hours with high UV indices, do not allow your children to use tanning beds, the only safe tan comes in a bottle!
In remembrance of James V. Veltrop, Jr. USN 1972-2010. Beloved father, son, husband and friend.