Skin Diaries

Pro Golfer Inspired by Grandfather’s Melanoma Diagnosis

By: Kaitlin Milligan

Growing up, I always wanted to be outside whether it was sports-related or even just cooking out with the family. Every chance I got; I was out under the sun. More often than not, you could find me at the course perfecting my golf game.

Golf has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been playing ever since I could walk and competitively since I was seven. Every weekend I had tournaments and every day after school I had practices. It wasn’t until I went to college at the University of Oklahoma that I started to realize just how much time I spent outside, especially with golf. 

Around the time I left home for college in 2018, my grandfather was diagnosed with melanoma. The doctor found a spot on his nose and explained that it had to be removed right away. My grandfather was always the person that never had anything wrong with them, which is why his diagnosis shocked my family. He was beyond tough, fought hard, and in the end, he beat cancer. His journey truly showed me how important it was to take care of yourself.

My entire family is now consciously aware of the way our skin changes and how fragile we all are when it comes to the sun. We’re constantly looking for new spots and are scheduling check-ups with our dermatologist. With this constant vigilance, my grandfather recently had more bumps on his nose checked out and found that they were pre-cancerous. Since he identified these spots early on, all he had to do was get them removed. He continues to be an exemplary model of how to take care of your skin, especially on the golf course. I don’t think I ever saw him wear a hat or put sunscreen on before cancer but now he is religious about it.

It’s because of him, I started wearing sun-protective long sleeves on the course, applying sunscreen to any skin I have exposed, and I’m working on trying to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes (that one is a work in progress). In 2021, I began my professional golfing career, which meant that I could finally pick the clothes that I wanted to wear. I was explaining to a family friend what I was looking for in a clothing brand—my primary need being sun protection—and he introduced me to Coolibar.

It made me very happy knowing I was protected in the sun while also feeling stylish and sporty on the golf course. I can now practice as long as I want in the Arizona sun and be certain I am covered. I think there is a general belief that skin cancer is treatable, and we often downplay the effects and the need for protection. That’s why I want to promote sun safety to other golfers, especially the younger generations, and educate them on why it is extremely important to protect their skin.

My grandfather’s experience helped me gain a desire to want to help others become more proactive with their sun-safety, in hopes that they will never have to hear the words, “you have cancer”, like my grandfather did.

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December 20, 2021

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