Local teacher surviving skin cancer now shares awareness, preven - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Local teacher surviving skin cancer now shares awareness, prevention through science curriculum

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In wake of her own melanoma diagnosis, Riverside Middle School Teacher Katy Lefler is sharing skin cancer awareness through science curriculum In wake of her own melanoma diagnosis, Riverside Middle School Teacher Katy Lefler is sharing skin cancer awareness through science curriculum
BILLINGS, Mont. -

Katy Lefler is someone who knows what it feels like to hear the words "you have skin cancer."

"Five years ago, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma," Lefler said. "I think I had a pity party when I got diagnosed like 'why me?'"

The Riverside Middle School 8th grade teacher said Billings Clinic's Dermatologist Dr. Samuel Reck helped her through her diagnosis and treatment, including surgery. 

"A lot of my day is spent cutting skin cancers off," Reck said. "Let's prevent it before it starts."

Reck and Lefler are now teaming up to do just that, spreading skin cancer awareness and prevention through Lefler's science curriculum.

"Being a science teacher, I always loved teaching about the entire spectrum of energy from the sun, but I really upped my game in teaching the science behind sunscreen and sunglasses and hats and other sun safety ideas," Lefler said. 

This week, Dr. Reck joined Lefler's 8th-grade science class for a special presentation on skin cancer prevention and detection. Reck measured out and demonstrated the proper amount of sunscreen to apply and engaged students with other interactive lessons in protection from the sun's rays. 

Reck said to remember the following keys for sun protection: 

  • SEEK shade
  • SLIP on protective clothing such as long sleeves that will help less skin be exposed
  • SLAP on a hat for additional shade and protection from sun rays
  • SLOP on sunscreen

Reck added that SPF stands for sun protection factor, and is a ratio indicating how long the product offers protection. For example, the dermatologist said a sunscreen that is SPF 10 will offer sun protection for about 10 minutes. He said sunscreen should generally be applied about every 2 hours. 

"Protect yourself now and you'll have a lot less problems down the road," Reck said. "I mean, if you like yellowy...colored skin, go ahead and go out there and expose yourself to ultraviolet light in the sun. If you don't want to look like that down the road and don't want to have your ear reshaped or something, protect yourself now."

"Children are our future," Lefler said. "Prevention is key."

Hear from Lefler and Dr. Reck on skin cancer awareness and prevention on KULR-8 News starting at 10 p.m.

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