MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Kim Barrett wants people to be aware of the dangers of tanning.
Her brother, Lee Jett was someone who loved the sun and getting a tan. Melanoma claimed his life when he was just 33 years old.
"Unfortunately when you're young you want to get to working out and look good for the ladies and that's what he did," said Barrett. She said at age 17, he joined a gym and worked out hard to build up his body.
"They offered free tanning at that gym and he took advantage of it. He tanned pretty hard from that age until 21, I guess, and that's when he was diagnosed with Melanoma," said Barrett.
She said he also laid out in the sun with reflectors.
"He had a mole around the shoulder blade, right underneath it. It was black with purple in it. The dermatologist took it off and it came back Melanoma, I think stage three," added Barrett.
Surgeons took surrounding tissue and some lymph nodes. She said her brother was very quiet, not discussing his disease, even with family members, and he had his own ideas about treatment.
"He didn't want to do the traditional round of chemo and losing your hair. He was still young. He was 21," said Barrett.
She said he took radiation treatments and went into remission for a while, but more than a decade later the disease came back. He finally took the chemotherapy for six months, but he passed away January 13 of 2010.
Barrett said she too was diagnosed with an earlier stage of Melanoma, but since she caught it early, it was treated successfully. With three children, she said she wanted to be around to help them grow up.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, less than one-third of men actually take protection when they are out in the sun. That compares to 43 percent of women.