“I’ve had one bad melanoma and three other lesser melanomas over the years,”

Sonny and Linda Salsbury are of a certain age. The age before anybody knew just how harmful the sun’s rays could be.

“We’re both from L.A.,” Sonny says. “We went to the beach constantly and covered ourselves with baby oil and got as dark as we could.

“And, you know what? When I told my dermatologist that he said that he did the same thing!”

If only we had known then what we know now.

“I’ve had one bad melanoma and three other lesser melanomas over the years,” says Sonny, who’s 80. “I’ve also had basal cell and squamous cell (carcinoma).”

After years of back-and-forth between Southern California and Yakima, Sonny, a youth minister, and Linda recently returned to Yakima for good. “We’re back here in our house, a big, old Victorian built in 1904, and it’s our favorite house of all the places we’ve ever lived.”

Sonny figures he has thousands of kids, two of their own and the rest from his years of ministering to young people, some of those years spent at Yakima’s First Presbyterian Church. “Some of my kids even showed up (from both Yakima and California) to help us settle back into our home!”

And he is grateful. Not just for the help settling in, but for the care he’s gotten from Dr. Naseer Ahmad and the staff at Virginia Mason Memorial’s North Star Lodge. “Doctors found a small spot on my liver in fall 2017, and now I get an infusion of Keytruda every three weeks. It’s been great: I’ve had no side effects. In fact I’m going down to Emerald Cove Day Camp in San Juan Capistrano this summer to be the camp granddaddy: lead singing, take the kids on hikes, tell them stories.”

Washington ranks among the top 10 states for the highest rates of new cases of melanoma of the skin. So, what would Sonny like all of his kids and the rest of us to know about the sun and its effects on skin?

“Wear that sunscreen,” he says. “Get out of the tanning beds. And if you’ve ever had skin cancer, don’t miss your checkups: Get your moles checked.”

And finally, he says quietly, “It’s more important to be alive and be the color God made you.”

 

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