Growing up I saw first-hand what it was like to have melanoma. How can I avoid getting it like my parent?

Avoid sun exposure. Melanomas mostly occur in skin exposed to sun and avoiding sun exposure will help. You may wish to conduct routine surveys of your skin, especially by a medical professional, including taking pictures of any and all pigmented lesions and monitoring the appearance and change in appearance of the lesions.
See a dermatologist. The best advice to avoid melanoma is see a skin doctor regularly to check all areas of the skin (including pals/soles/nail beds) avoid sunburns, wear sunscreen.
Know your skin. The most important thing to do if you have a strong family history of melanoma and/or a personal history of severe sunburns is to conduct self-skin exams. Know the abcdes of melanoma, have a complete annual skin exam by a dermatologist and practice sunprotection and sun safety. Visit the www. Skincancer. Org website for more information on melanoma and other common skin cancers.
Melanoma family? Some melanomas run in families, other are sporadic. The other doctors gave you good advice as well. If you're in a long-term relationship, you and your partner can check each other's pigmented spots on a regular basis. Not only can it save your life, it's fun. Familiarize yourself with how early melanoma looks, and if you do this, you'll almost certainly not die of it.
Avoid sun, sunscreen. Avoid the sun, and use sunscreen! Use a sunscreen of SPF 50 or greater. Even if it says it is waterproof/sweatproof, reapply it to all affected areas every 2 hours. Look for a sunscreen that blocks both uv-a and uv-b rays (like neutrogena helioplex). Also, examine your skin regularly to make sure that you don't have any suspicious skin moles that are changing, including your back.