Congressman invites Harrington woman to State of the Union Address

WILMINGTON, Del. —Harrington native Samantha Gustafson may join Congressman John Carney (D-DE) Tuesday night for President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Congressman Carney announced Thursday, Jan. 7.

Harrington native Samantha Gustafson will join Congressman John Carney (D-DE) Tuesday night for President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Congressman Carney announced Thursday, Jan. 7.

Harrington native Samantha Gustafson may join Congressman John Carney (D-DE) Tuesday night for President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Congressman Carney announced Thursday, Jan. 7.

Now a teacher at W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover, Ms. Gustafson became an advocate for cancer prevention and early detection after losing her husband, Brett, to melanoma.

Brett Gustafson was a 28-year-old young farmer, husband, and father who lost a courageous battle with the disease in 2013. He left behind Samantha and their two young boys.

“It is such an honor to be a part of this event. I am so humbled seeing how our story can help others and thankful that God is able to take pain and loss and use it for good,” said Ms. Gustafson.

“We don’t have many choices about what life can hand us, especially where cancer is concerned. And although many times our choices are made for us in life, there are some we can make; such as choosing to make a difference and help others by spreading awareness about early detection and prevention, but most importantly spreading kindness and compassion. I am so very thankful to be a part of this opportunity.”

Congressman Carney said, “Each and every day, Americans face the fear, anger, and grief that encompass the fight against cancer. Last May, after the loss of Beau, Vice President Biden challenged us as a country to take on the fight against cancer. Samantha’s story is an example of what we can do. It takes a very special person to go through such an unspeakable tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to serve others. Samantha has made it her mission to educate others, and help families struggling with the same set of challenges that she has faced. I’m very proud that she’ll be representing Delaware at the State of the Union.”

In 2014, Samantha participated in a statewide outreach initiative through the Delaware Division of Public Health called Protect Your Skin DE. The initiative shares tips for preventing skin cancer, as well as educational material on warning signs and how to seek treatment. More information, including a testimonial by Samantha, can be found here: http://www.protectyourskinde.com/.

Samantha has also published a book, titled “The Prayer of a Single Mom,” to share her experiences and advice with others struggling with sickness and loss.

Skin cancer is among the most preventable forms of cancer, yet incidence rates continue to rise. Delaware ranked second in the U.S. for incidence of melanoma between 2007 and 2011, the most recent data available. The mortality rate for melanoma in Delaware is 11% higher than the national average over the same time period.

The earlier skin cancer is detected, the better the outcome. Experts recommend visiting a dermatologist annually and performing self-exams monthly to check for any spots that could be cancerous.

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