Donna Rosa in photo shoot for I Will Reflect campaign

The Citadel’s First Lady Encourages Year-Round Protection from Melanoma

Summer may be ending, but the risks of melanoma are not

Cadets and students are returning to The Citadel’s iconic campus in Charleston where the sun shines bright and the temperatures stay warm long past the official end of summer on calendars. The Citadel’s First Lady, Donna Rosa, wants to remind the college’s community and neighbors that skin cancer prevention steps are needed all year long. Rosa, the wife of Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, USAF (ret.), and life-long lover of the sun had a very close call after being diagnosed with melanoma.

“I am somewhat of a walking miracle. I was diagnosed 20 years ago; it has come back several times since and has required numerous surgeries as well as chemotherapy. We’re not talking about a little cosmetic problem here - melanoma starts on the skin but can move rapidly through the body’s lymphatic system causing tumors in multiple places,” says Donna. “I have had tumors in my hip, in my lung and at one point was told I would have only nine months to live. That was in 2001 and I am still here. Many others with melanoma are not.”

Donna who is involved with numerous philanthropic efforts including the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s holds her breath every year when her body is scanned until she gets the results. She still loves being outdoors. 

“We spend a lot of time outdoors at The Citadel. Between Bulldogs’ games, fitness activities, parades, and the irresistible lure of the Lowcountry marshes and beaches it’s hard to stay inside,” said Donna Rosa. “When I heard about the I Will Reflect campaign to encourage skin cancer prevention, I was eager to help.

Donna is an ambassador for the I Will Reflect social media campaign headed by The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place for nine years.

“With this campaign, we aim to educate the Charleston community about the importance of sun safety, skin protection and the significant dangers of melanoma,” said Annette Sandford-Lopez, Director of The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place.  “The I Will Reflect social media campaign uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for sharing advice from prominent Charleston ambassadors and local physicians, as well as skin cancer survivors like Donna.”

The campaign begins to wrap up at the end of the summer, but will resume in the spring. However Sandford-Lopez, Donna Rosa and the other I will Reflect ambassadors encourage everyone to continue protecting themselves with these steps: 

  • Wear sunscreen year-round
  • Use a minimum of 15 SPF Broad Spectrum sunscreen
  • ·Seek shade whenever possible between 10am and 4pm
  • Have an annual full-body skin check
  • Encourage friends and family to do the same

Look for the “I Will Reflect” campaign on Instagram @charlestonplacespa and see the conversation with #IWillReflect. Learn more and watch a video here.