YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

South Jordan Melanoma Survivor Urges People To Wear Sunscreen

Aug 19, 2019, 9:59 PM | Updated: 10:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Pool days are coming to a close with the start of school approaching, but the sun is still shining and the risk of developing a deadly form of skin cancer is very real. One South Jordan man knows firsthand.

Chip Hlavacek and his wife, Debra Hlavacek, love riding bikes, but before they hit the pavement, they cover themselves in sunscreen and protective clothing.

Chip Hlavacek learned the hard way what happens when you don’t take precautions to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. He spent 20 years as a Marine under the sun and never bothered with sunscreen or a hat.

“Being in the military, I’ve always had short hair,” he described.

“Takes too much time. It’s too messy,” he reasoned.

Several years ago while on vacation, he suffered a bad burn on his head.

“It just sizzled. It cooked my scalp. I literally had blisters on my scalp,” he said.

Chip Hlavacek said he put some lotion on the burn and never saw a dermatologist. He didn’t think much about it until he noticed an irregular spot on his head two years later.

“I thought that the bump on the top of my head was an ingrown hair,” he said.

After a biopsy, Hlavacek was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma.

“I looked over at my wife. She had tears in her eyes and I went, ‘Oh, we might have a problem here,’” he remembered.

He used to think skin cancer was something that could be easily removed with little repercussions.

To his surprise, he had to endure several invasive surgeries on his scalp and his neck.

“It was an open wound bigger than a Coke can on the top of my head,” he said.

He also had 44 lymph nodes removed in his neck and had to go through immunotherapy every three weeks for an entire year.

Fortunately, today Chip Hlavacek is healthy. Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Tawny Bowles says melanoma is preventable.

“If you have an SPF of 30, that’s going to block nearly 100%, is about 97%, of the whole harmful rays from the sun,” she said. Bowles said in order for sunscreen to be effective, however, it must be reapplied every couple hours.

She said sunscreen with an SPF greater than 30 won’t give much additional protection, however, she encourages people to keep using it if they’ve found something they like.

Bowles urges people to screen their moles often for change in size, shape or color.

She said melanoma often takes form in a mole, “but some melanomas are not brown or black. They can be pink or purple or even flesh color, but look funny and different.”

She said early diagnoses can prevent melanoma from spreading to other organs. Today the Hlavaceks don’t take chances.

“I don’t care what the UV is, I think you need to put it on morning, afternoon, night whenever,” Debra Hlavacek said.

Chip Hlavacek always wears long pants and either sports a floppy or baseball hat to cover his head.

Bowles suggested trying zinc oxide as a mineral-based sunscreen option if you are concerned about added chemicals in mainstream sunscreen brands. Easiest of all, Bowles urges people to stay away from tanning beds which could greatly increase their risk for melanoma.

Chip Hlavacek had 44 lymph nodes removed in his neck after being diagnosed with melanoma. At first Chip Hlavacek thought the bump on his head was an ingrown hair. Later he found out it was melanoma and had surgery to remove it. Chip Hlavacek and his wife Debra Hlavacek love to ride bikes outside. Chip Hlavacek and his wife Debra Hlavacek don't take chances. They always put sunscreen on when they go outdoors. Chip Hlavacek and his wife Debra Hlavacek don't take chances. They always put sunscreen on when they go outdoors.
KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

...
Ayanna Likens

New orthopedic urgent care offers quicker, more affordable care

A first of its kind orthopedic urgent care opened in St. George, providing faster and cheaper services than going to the emergency room.
7 days ago
Joan DuQuette and Amanda DuQuette-Roberts...
Ayanna Likens

South Jordan family is thankful for organ donation this Thanksgiving

A local family said they have a lot to be thankful for this year after their family member received a lifesaving kidney transplant, but this transplant actually saved more than just one life.
15 days ago
Thanksgiving feast...
Ayanna Likens

Taking food allergies into account this holiday season

As Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations bring people around the table, Intermountain Healthcare dietitians say it's crucial to take food allergies into consideration when planning the big meal.
20 days ago
aortic aneurysm repair...
Ayanna Likens

‘It was a real miracle for us’ New technology at Intermountain Healthcare saves man’s life

Intermountain Healthcare recently became the first in Utah to perform a new lifesaving and less invasive heart procedure. 
27 days ago
...
Ayanna Likens

Utah mom, doctor shed light on high-risk pregnancy diagnosis

One Salt Lake mom, who was diagnosed with a rare, high-risk pregnancy diagnosis called placenta accreta, speaks about her experience. A doctor from Intermountain Healthcare also weighs in.
1 month ago
...
Ayanna Likens

Tips to keep your child safe this Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, which means streets will soon be filled with trick-or-treaters whose focus on candy may distract them from watching cars. Here are some tips to keep them safe.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
South Jordan Melanoma Survivor Urges People To Wear Sunscreen