The Patriots issued a release this afternoon that definitely grabbed my attention, and I wanted to take a moment to hopefully alert more of you to it. So for anyone heading to training camp next Monday, I definitely encourage you to take a moment and not only take them up on this, but to also increase your own awareness on this subject.

New England announced on Thursday that they will be teaming up with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to try and tackle skin cancer on Aug. 10. AAD dermatologists will volunteer their services to help the Patriots increase awareness of the importance of skin cancer detection and prevention by providing free skin cancer screenings at Patriots Training Camp.

According to the release, the screenings will be available to Patriots fans attending Training Camp and Patriots Experience on Aug. 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the W3 lobby of Gillette Stadium, adjacent to Patriots Experience and the camp parking lots.

Having just had a growth removed from the top of my ear (which I had sunburned badly twice over the last year), I’ve had to be much more aware of my exposure to the sun this summer. I actually have to put sunscreen on it every day, as I was told that I’m now 5 times more likely to have another issue there until all of the skin fully grows back. Even walking to and from my car is long enough to potentially have a problem – so it’s become part of my daily routine.

I lost my grandfather to melanoma, and witnessed a good friend of mine lose his mother to this disease just a couple of months ago. Like my grandfather she had no idea she had it, and died a mere three months after being diagnosed. Needless to say I’m more aware now than ever, and I would encourage everyone else to be a bit more careful this summer and use sunscreen. You may not think it could happen to you, but skin cancer affects one in five Americans, and more than 1 million new cases are diagnosed each year. The worst part is if it goes unnoticed and reaches a point where it can’t be treated effectively (and many growths do tend to go unseen depending on where they’re located on your body), the odds stastically are not good.

It’s a cancer that is completely preventable, provided you take the necessary precautions. So be sure to put sunscreen on your kids and make sure your loved ones don’t “forget” to put it on. It’s just not worth the risk.