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

Your Life Your Health

Comiske riding her stationary bike, something she does every morning....

Emma Benson

Strategies to lengthen your life

The CDC says, on average, women tend to live 5-7 years longer than men because men higher rate of cardiovascular disease, but there are simple, healthy ways to increase your life expectancy.

4 days ago

Chris and Aimee Tyler, speaking about their experience with Chris's pancreatic cancer diagnosis....

Emma Benson

‘Cancer can affect anybody’: Utah couple processes pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and often goes undetected until it's advanced. One Utah County man is fighting for more time with his loved ones.

11 days ago

Ruth Norton uses the ArthroFit gym to help senior patients prevent, prepare for and recover from su...

Emma Benson

Intermountain program helps seniors fight joint pain, recover from surgery

Ruth Norton has had her fair share of health challenges, including double-knee surgery, open-heart surgery, and breast cancer. 

18 days ago

...

Emma Benson

‘The place we love isn’t healthy’: Millcreek couple weighs decision of moving due to poor air quality

No one is immune to the dangers of air pollution. What if you had to choose between staying in Utah while risking a premature death, or leaving behind family, your career, and your roots to move somewhere new for the sake of your health? One Millcreek couple is facing that exact scenario. #yourlifeyourhealth

25 days ago

Jayde St. Clair (left) with her newborn child being held by her husband....

Emma Benson

How childbirth education classes can help moms prepare for labor

Intermountain Health is offering prenatal courses for parents that cover everything from pregnancy to labor and delivery to postpartum care.

1 month ago

Steve Adams on dialysis...

Emma Benson

Are you at risk for kidney disease? 

Steve Adams is not afraid of making friends, even at the dialysis center. 

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

South Jordan Melanoma Survivor Urges People To Wear Sunscreen