By Timna Understein – RAAAAAAAWR! Yea, that’s me roaring. Like a lion. Like a mother lioness, actually. Ya know…that fierce, protective outpouring of instinctual need to safeguard our young? That’s how I feel when it comes to the sun and my children.

I daydream about knowing they will use sunscreen daily (and reapply, of course), seek shade, wear hats and sunglasses, UPF clothing, etc. Daydream by definition means a series of pleasant thoughts that distract one’s attention from the present. Indeed, I do that. Because in reality, I have a 20 year old son, who does not practice safe sun, a 17-year-old son, who does the very bare minimum, and an almost 13-year-old daughter who is a sun safety advocate, proudly applies sunscreen and views a tan as ugly.

“As a melanoma mama, the thought of my kids going through what I go through in terms of this disease, pains me to no end…”

As a melanoma mama, the thought of my kids going through what I go through in terms of this disease, pains me to no end, especially knowing that there are simple measures one can take to help prevent it. I can’t control them, and I can’t live in a daydream either. So, here’s what I can do… set up rules and lead by example:


My “theory” as to why my older cubs don’t respect the rays/rules and my youngest does, is that possibly, the youngest cub has experienced my melanoma mama lioness preventive instinct for more of her life then the others. That brings me to my belief that starting them young (VERY young) is the most effective way to integrate sun safety into the lives of our children.

Last week, I was honored to be able to preview a new and brilliant PSA, created by The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund and The Douglas Wright Foundation, two melanoma organizations paving the way in educating about importance of protecting our children and their skin. They have captured this in the #NewFamilyRules video, that focuses on starting them young, with a spotlight on rules. Do lionesses get goosebumps? I do, when listening to the insightful children in the video answering the question, “… is putting on sunscreen a rule?”

Have a look, be moved, share this video, be a lion/lioness… do anything you think will make a difference! TEACH. THEM. YOUNG.

QUESTION: What will you do today to help protect and educate our cubs?

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. ~Desmond Tutu

About the contributor

Timna_Understein_new-e1404923926118Timna Understein is a melanoma warrior, who has bravely battled this disease twice since 2008 along with a Primary Acquired Melanosis of her left eye in 2012. She is also the WYSK behind Respect The Rays, a melanoma education and awareness movement that targets young people. Read her inspiring story here.

Follow Respect The Rays on Facebook.