Stephanie Thompson – SweetwaterNow July 22, 2021
SWEETWATER COUNTY — Sometimes all it takes is a simple act, such as putting on sunscreen, to start a preventative cancer campaign.
Kelly Sugihara, Wyoming Cancer Resource Services Region 5 coordinator, based out of the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, has made cancer prevention her mission. Over the last two years, Sugihara has worked to find a way to help decrease the amount a skin cancer in Sweetwater County.
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According to Sugihara, 5 million people in the United States alone are treated for skin cancer each year.
“It’s the most common cancer,” Sugihara said.
Not only is skin cancer the most common cancer, but it is the most preventable as well by simply protecting one’s skin from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). There are two types of UV Rays, UVA and UVB and both can cause skin cancer.
With this stat in mind, Sugihara tried to find a way to help prevent skin cancer. Soon, she discovered the Wyoming Department of Health was working with Wyoming State Parks and the Wyoming Cancer program in the Cheyenne area to provide free sunscreen dispensers at parks for residents and visitors to use.
Sugihara approached both parks and recreation departments in Rock Springs and Green River to see if she could place sunscreen dispensers in some of the city’s parks.
“Rock Springs and Green River are key players in this. Installing them throughout the county,” Sugihara said.
So far, about 14 sunscreen dispensers have been placed in parks where water features are available for public use, such as local splash parks, pools and pads. There is also a sunscreen dispenser by the Wilkins Peak biking trail, the shooting range in Green River, and the White Mountain Golf Course in Rock Springs.
Sugihara said Tata Chemicals is also participating in the program and has two dispensers at their site.
“My grant funding allows me to purchase sunscreen,” Sugihara said.
Not only are dispensers placed in parks throughout the county, but Sugihara has eight mobile dispensers available for residents to use at events. For example, Whisler Chevrolet used the mobile dispensers at its recent car show. The mobile dispensers were donated by the Woman’s Club of Rock Springs.
Each dispenser has around 700 squirts of sunscreen available for residents to use. Usually, a dispenser can make it through the entire summer without being refilled. However, if they need refilling, the city just lets Sugihara know.
Sugihara said the dispensers have been pretty successful. She often hears residents tell her how thankful they are for them being located near splash parks. Oftentimes, families are just so excited to visit one of the county’s water parks or pads that they often forget the sunscreen. This is a way for them to still be protected by the sun.
With the Sweetwater County program seeing success, Sugihara is looking to expand the program into the other areas her position covers including Uinta, Sublette, Lincoln and Teton. The program may look differently in each county due to each county’s needs.
Sun Protection Tips
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Wear at hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and back.
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.