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Free sunscreen coming to Riverview, N.B., this summer


It’s just a matter of time until Maritimers trade in their raincoats for bathing suits, but this year the sun is also bringing an important reminder about skin protection.

“In 2003, I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma,” shared Save Your Skin Foundation founder, Kathy Barnard.

“In ’05 it had spread to my lungs, my liver, my bones, my adrenal gland and my kidney and I was given six months to live.”

Shortly after receiving life-saving treatment from a doctor in the United States, Kathy launched the Save Your Skin Foundation in 2006.

She now uses her experience to help other people from all over, including in Riverview, N.B.

As part of a nationwide campaign, which aims to fight skin cancer by making sunscreen more accessible, four free dispensers will be coming to Riverview for the summer.

“Two of them are actually going to be at Lions Community Park and that’s kind of the best central location where people are on the playground, they’re at the pool, there’s a baseball field there,” said Ashly Barron, a communications manager for the town.

The other two will travel to community events helping to ensure that SPF 30 is available where people might need it most.

“I think it comes down to access and being able to get sunscreen where and when you need it,” she said.

“For us, when we talk about Riverview being a place that’s safe and inclusive, sun safety is definitely a part of that and allowing people to have access to mineral sunscreen – it can be kind of expensive.”

Barron says one of the main goals was to make sure that people who couldn’t afford sunscreen would still have access to the protection.

Barron added that skin cancer is 90 per cent from UV rays.

“We try to remind everybody that your skin is the largest organ of your body, it’s actually an organ, and you see it and you need to protect it just like you would any other organ.”

The free sunscreen program launched last year and has grown to include 30 different communities this year. In Riverview, that means growing from one dispenser to four.

“Last summer, I think we went through eight litres of sunscreen, which is a lot, so people were obviously using it and saw the value in it,” said Barron.

“[Save Your Skin Foundation] covers the cost of this mobile unit and the units that are going to be installed at Lions Community Park, so to expand this year to four dispensers and offer it to the public was an easy yes for Riverview.”

The free dispensers are expected to be installed at Lions Community Park on June 16 ahead of the pool opening on June 24, according to Barron.

While sunscreen is just one defense against the sun, Barnard says it’s important people of all ages find some form of protection.

“I used to call myself a professional sun tanner,” she said.

“I used to go out in the morning, and by the late afternoon I’d have a little bit of glow. I can go out now and in 15 minutes I can be burnt, so the sun dynamics are changing. I’m not a scientist, but I know personally that it’s changed the way my skin burns.”

She says there are also troubling trends.

“Most of the patients that are coming to Save Your Skin with stage 3 and 4 melanoma are totally younger than they were when we started in 2006,” she said.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in ocular melanoma in the younger demographics that we weren’t seeing five years ago.”

On top of free sunscreen, the grassroots company focuses on research, prevention and support for patients diagnosed with melanoma. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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