Last updated: Jul 16, 2008

Remember those girls who would line their lawn chairs with tin foil to catch rays from all angles? Sometimes theyd even stick their chairs in baby pools to get even more reflected sunlight. That was Julie Lee, now 36, of Toledo, Ohio. “I was trying to achieve the perfect tan,” she remembers. “My mom always used to warn me. But when youre young, you think youre invincible.”


That all changed when Lee was 31 and noticed a suspicious mole on her stomach. She had it removed and found out it was melanoma, a potentially deadly form of cancer that kills 8,400 people every year. She was pregnant when she got the diagnosis and worried that she wouldnt get to see her child grow up. Fortunately, doctors were able to remove all of the cancer.

Lee is now a serial-sunblock wearer who stays in the shade as much as possible, but she wants skin cancer out of the shadows. She scolds friends who go to tanning salons and lie to her about it. “Im angry about the damage I did to my skin,” Lee says. “Maybe I can guilt them into changing their ways.”

After losing someone close to her as a result of melanoma, Lee used her own guilt about carelessness in the sun to fuel a good cause—raising money for the Melanoma International Foundation. This year, her goal was to raise $5,000 at the Second Annual Safe From the Sun 5K run and walkathon at Toledos Ottawa Park in June.