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Kathy with DadMy Father’s Parting Words by Kathy Howie

My father grew up in South Boston playing and boating at the local beaches and harbor. When I was a child he took us for walks on Castle Island every Sunday. My brother developed a bone disease when he was six years old involving his hip. The doctor suggested that he swim for physical therapy and get lots of sunshine (vitamin D) so his bones would grow.

That began my dad’s obsession with exercising outside. He put in a swimming pool so my brother could swim – and of course a salt water swimming pool so we could get a really good tan in the process. As a family, we rented a cottage on a lake each summer, took weekend trips to the ocean and winter trips to the Caribbean. The goal was to be healthy and get a nice tan in the process. We never used sunscreen as it was practically unheard of in the 60s and 70s. We used baby oil to get that good tan. My mother would constantly throw us outside to “go get some sun”. They believed that a tan was a sign of good health. As my parents aged they spent their winters in Florida soaking up the rays and getting the darkest tan that was evidence of a good vacation and looking healthy.

In 2005, my father became concerned about his moles and became faithful about seeing his GP and a skin doctor. He had a few moles removed. One that was on his forehead was removed a few times but always turned out to be benign. However, it always grew back. Because it was not cancer the doctor wasn’t too pushy about having additional surgery.

After seeing a new doctor in 2011 he had the mole biopsied again and this time the diagnosis was melanoma. He then had additional surgery including removal of lymph nodes that were clear. Five years later, a spot appeared on his lower hip. Somewhere the sun had never seen and we knew it was not good. It was in fact a melanoma – a metastatic melanoma. It had spread throughout his entire body. He was dead in 3 months.

I believe the lack of knowledge that the sun’s rays can be deadly and the sun worshiping culture of my parents’ generation contributed to my father’s death. Since that diagnosis, I have changed my lifestyle but I know for me it may be too late. The damage may already have been done. My dad regretted his lack of knowledge and choices regarding the sun. One of my father’s last words to me were to “stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen”.

I remember his words and have decided to pass this warning on to a new generation. My Dad was a good man and loved mentoring others. I believe educating kids about sun safety is something my dad would be proud to be a part of. I want sun protection to become something each child does without thinking – like bike helmets and seat belts. No one deserves to have their life cut short because they didn’t know that the suns rays could cause cancer and that sunscreen could prevent it.

Adapted from CMPF Friend and Volunteer Pattie Day’s message at the CMPF Gala Fundraiser in April 2018:
jacks senior pic 1My son Jack was diagnosed with melanoma on November 9, 2009. He was only 16 years old, just beginning his junior year of high school. It started with a single mole on the top of his head. His treatment journey began at Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, NY, encompassing three surgeries and a yearlong course of Interferon treatment. In 2011, we were told that the cancer had spread to his lungs. It was at that point that our path, with the direction and support of his surgeon at Roswell, brought us to Massachusetts General Hospital. We were blessed to have Jack in the care of Dr. Keith Flaherty, Dr. Donald Lawrence, Dr. Ryan Sullivan, Krista Rubin, Riley Fadden and their entire melanoma team.
Four years later, on August 7, 2015, we lost Jack, just three weeks before his 22nd birthday. Throughout his six-year battle, Jack faced his diagnosis with faith, strength, and quiet determination. He educated himself on what HE could do to give his body the best fighting chance and he did it all. He left no "what ifs."

Unfortunately, I found myself with many "what ifs." When I came to terms, somewhat, with the fact that I could not change the past, I knew that I somehow had to change the future. I needed to do something to honor Jack. I needed to do something to fill my time and hopefully help to ease my pain. I had two questions that needed answers:
1. What could I do to honor my son?
2. How could I begin to thank his team of doctors? How could I thank them for the time they gave us with Jack, for the compassion they showed us all and for the work they have done and so tirelessly continue to do in THEIR fight against melanoma?

Eventually, I found these questions could be answered with one simple yet very important word: EDUCATE.
As you may know, melanoma is highly treatable, often curable, when caught early. More importantly, melanoma is highly preventable. Each and every one of us, here and everywhere, are exposed to the sun's harmful rays each and every day. And yet, like myself, too few truly understand the danger of unprotected sun exposure. I now live my life wondering, “If I knew then what I know now, would Jack still be here with us today?” Someday, I will know that answer. Until then, I want to do what I can so that no other parent will ever find themselves asking that same question.
How can I educate as many people and children as I can? The fact that I am a teacher's aide in an elementary school gives me the perfect audience to start with, but it is still a daunting task to even know where to begin. Fortunately, when I reached out to Jack's doctors at Mass General for guidance, Krista Rubin introduced me to the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation.

Sara Ader Chuckle EventOn behalf of our Executive Board and Advisory Council, I would like to welcome you to our newly redesigned website. Our Web development team has worked hard to make this site visitor friendly and informational. We invite you to explore our site to learn more about our mission, what we do and how you can help. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

For more than a decade, I have had the pleasure of working with the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, an organization completely dedicated to educating children and their caregivers about preventing skin cancer. We can proudly say that we have reached more than 1 million students of all ages with our award-winning, age-appropriate, curriculum-based school programs. We continue to expand our capabilities to reach children and their families all over the world with our online programming and resources.

I hope that what you learn on our site will inspire you to join us in supporting our mission to prevent skin cancer, one child at a time. Sara Mason Ader  (Board Chair)

SNAPPER ROCK AND CHILDREN’S MELANOMA PREVENTION FOUNDATION PARTNER FOR 15TH ANNIVERSARY

Leading UPF50+ Swimwear Brand and Non-Profit Skin Cancer Awareness Group Celebrates Anniversaries for Skin Cancer Awareness Month


SnapperRock Toddler 1AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (April 23, 2018) – Snapper Rock, the award-winning family swimwear brand with UPF50+ protection, and the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation are elated to announce their partnership for their 15th anniversary celebration. In honor of their anniversary, Snapper Rock and the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation will launch a limited run of children’s flap hats to help shield harmful rays during outdoor activities. In addition, Snapper Rock will be donating 5% of their online sales in May to the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation to commemorate Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

ANA 4.6.18Community Service for Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, founder and Executive Director of the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation (CMPF), is a form of paying it back. You see, when she was a young nurse her mother developed a “changing” mole on her neck. She showed it to two physicians both of whom told her not to worry because it was a mole that she had her whole life. Soon after, a friend and dermatology resident came to dinner and spotted the melanoma and arranged for treatment. Maryellen has shared that although a nurse herself, she didn’t even know what melanoma was. She soon came to realize just how important this incidental diagnosis was since her mother survived for another thirty years. Maryellen went on to a career in oncology nursing and obtained her master’s degree at Simmons’s College in 1990. Her thesis, Nurse’s Knowledge of Melanoma and How it Relates to Clinical Practice was done under the direction of Dr. Judy Beal and was her first real attempt at paying it back.


Maryellen worked as a nurse practitioner in dermatology prior to starting the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation in 2003. The foundation’s mission is to prevent skin cancer one child at a time through education and advocacy. Because she believes that skin cancer is the one cancer where nurses can truly make a huge difference she sought out other nurses to help with the foundation’s mission. In 2017, CMPF was recognized by the Center for Disease Control for partnering with nurses to promote the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer.


CMPF developed their signature SunAWARE National Curriculum and Community Initiative to raise awareness and teach sun protection and skin cancer prevention to children and the people who care for them (parents, coaches, healthcare professionals, etc.). The program is designed to be fun and informative, as well as interactive. The foundation’s SunAWARE educators have directly provided the SunAWARE Program to over one million children and adults in schools and the community both locally and nationally. All programs are provided free of charge with the support of corporate and individual donations.


Maryellen oversees a dedicated staff, board of directors, and advisory council. In addition, Maryellen has sought out and partnered with numerous organizations including the Dermatology Nurses’ Association (DNA), MA Association of Public Health Nurses (MAPHN), the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), US Sailing, and others. Through their Boston Harbor SunAWARE Project, CMPF was able to collaborate with the National Park Service to provide education and sunscreen for thousands of visitors and tourists along with onsite community education.
CMPF is actively involved in community and legislative advocacy. CMPF was instrumental in advocating for the Massachusetts indoor tanning ban for minors signed into law by Gov. Baker in 2016. This year, CMPF is championing and supporting bills that will allow children to bring sunscreen to school without a doctor’s prescription or note.


Community service is at the root of CMPF’s mission and Maryellen couldn’t be more proud of the small role that she has played in “preventing skin cancer one child at a time”.

katie at hatherly 3Spring is just around the corner and now is the time to decide that you will advocate for sun protection policies at your child’s school. Research, make a plan, talk with administrators so you will be ready to protect students once the UV Index starts to rise in March. Here are some suggestions as to what you can do at a local, state, and national level to protect children from the most common cancer in our society.

Local level: Parents can help develop sun protection policies within schools that do not necessarily require changes in legislation. These policies can reflect the 5 easy action steps found in the SunAWARE acronym. Use the SunAWARE acronym to help design programs and policies that cover all the steps needed for protection and detection. Using SunAWARE as a framework can be helpful when developing policies and programs because it includes primary and secondary prevention efforts. Please feel free to contact CMPF, if you have questions.

Be Safe. Be SunAWARE.

School Suggestions:

➢ Schedule a lecture on sun protection for the Parents Teacher Organization.
➢ Initiate a shade committee, e.g., shade for playground.
➢ Help raise money for the purchase of sun protective hats and sun protective sports uniforms.
➢ Provide sunscreen reminder notes to parents before outdoor field trips.
➢ Distribute our SunAWARE infoflier, available for free download.
➢ Provide tips for better sun protection during recess or at sports events.
➢ Consider sending out a sun protection newsletter.

State level: Parents can help change legislation that directly affects sun safety for their children at school or day care. Support the pending Sunucate legislation that allows children to bring sunscreen to school*. This can include initiating the funding for providing skin cancer prevention education, allowing hats to be worn at recess or during outdoor sporting events, and allowing children to use sunscreens during school hours.

National level: Parents can lobby for a national skin cancer prevention campaign, using the SunAWARE Program, that is similar to campaigns against smoking and illegal drug use.

References:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for School Programs to Prevent Skin Cancer: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/pdf/sunsafety_v0908.pdf
(CDC has published specific and detailed guidelines for parents who want to work with schools to create sun protection policies. These guidelines outline recommendations for sun policy changes, environmental changes, education programs, family involvement, professional development and evaluation. Read them, make copies and give them to your school principal).

*An Act reducing the risk of skin cancer and excessive UV exposure in children: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S1196
*An Act relative to the availability of sunscreen for students: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S229
*An Act relative to student sun safety: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2055

As a new mom to a one-year-old boy, my biggest priority is making sure I am constantly keeping my son safe and healthy! Since we live in South Florida, it’s extra important to me to keep him protected from the sun’s harmful rays while enjoying our year around warm weather. I had no idea that babies were not able to wear sunscreen until they were 6 months old. When I found that out, I decided to take extra precautions to keep him sun safe. I have put a list together of a few of my favorite baby and mom approved items that are stylish and perfect for keeping your little ones safe from the sun.

Stoke lateral view

My first must have on the list is a stroller that blocks UV rays. I love the Stokke strollers as they are very versatile and are comfortable for baby and mom. When I found out they had a summerkit, I purchased it imediately! It came with a hood, seat rail cover, rear textile cover, sun sail, and terrycloth seat liner. The fabric is made to wick way moister and keep them cool on warm days. It also contains UPF 50+ to protect their sensitive skin. My favorite feature of this kit is the sun sail, which covers your baby from direct sunlight while still managing to provide a well-ventilated environment. If you live in cold climates, they also sell a winter kit, which protects baby and mom from the harsh winter weather. This kit offers built in hand mittens for mom, faux fur lining, and a down sleeping back for when temperatures plunge. 

Moms pack

The second item on my list is a covered area for outdoor playtime! I love taking Jameson outside to play, but I don’t want him crawling on the dirty ground or being exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. While at the beach, I have seen many families with tents for their children to play in. If you purchase a tent, be sure to check for reflected light. The sun’s UV rays can reflect off the sand and cause sun damage. With this in mind, we chose to bring our 4Moms pack n play to the beach and purchase a giant umbrella to cover the top of the pack n play. It allowed for the breezy weather to keep him cool in the summer heat and was easy to set up!

 

While spending anytime outdoors, proper clothing is a must! I always make sure Jameson is wearing sun protective clothing whenever we are spending time outdoors or at the beach. Hats, sunglasses, and long sleeve swimwear should be worn at all times. When choosing hats, remember that the wider the brim the more protection. Be sure that hats are also waterproof and comfortable. My favorite hat for swimming is Jameson w sunglassesSwimlids. Target also offers a few great options as well. They stay on and are comfortable for children. Sunglasses are just as important for babies as they are for adults! The sun’s rays are strong and can harm your baby’s sensitive eyes. I love Babiators! They offer 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays and are bendable so they are not easily broken. Sun protective clothing is also extremely important and should be worn over sunscreen. I like long sleeve options to protect his arms. My favorite brands include Cat & Jack at Target, SnapperRock, and Radicool. Each of these brands offers stylish options! Make sure to always protect your baby’s feet. They are often exposed and hard to cover. Mudpie socks stay on well.

One of the most important tips is to always use sunscreen for babies older than 6 months! My favorite sunscreen is Neutrogena’s Pure and Free baby sunscreen. It features a 100 percent zinc oxide sunscreen formula, which is proven safe and effective for baby’s sensitive skin. It is also free of harmful chemicals, phthalates and parabens, and as a mom, I always try to use natural products whenever possible. I like to use the squeeze bottle for applying sunscreen on his body under sun protective clothing, and the sunscreen stick for application on his face. Be sure to reapply every 2 hours and to cover every bit of exposed skin including ears, toes, fingers, neck, and ears! For babies under 6 months, be sure to speak with your pediatrician before using sunscreen.

Last but not least, protect your baby while in the car! Many people forget that the sun’s harmful rays can easily penetrate windows. Whether you are trying to get your newborn to sleep with a long car ride around the neighborhood or just running errands in the afternoon, protect them by using a window shade. Britax EZ-Cling Sun Shade provides UPF 30+ and keeps the sun out of babies’ eyes when they are trying to nap.

Teaching healthy habits start at a young age! Make sure you are an example to your children of what it means to have a healthy relationship with the sun and practice what your preach.

Maura TeachingBook Your SunAWARE School Program Today!

Our SunAWARE school curriculum is based on five action steps: Avoid unprotected UV exposure and never indoor tan, Wear sun protection clothing, Apply adequate amounts of SPF 30+ sunscreen, Routinely examine your skin for changes, and Educate others. The SunAWARE acronym incorporates both sun protection and skin cancer detection components. The curriculum meets or exceeds the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and National Common Core Standards as well as the Next Generation Science Standards.

Renee w GranpaRenee Crown 1Melanoma prevention is more than just a cause to me; it is a passion that has expanded as a result of a personal experience with the disease. When my grandfather passed away in 2008 from melanoma, I witnessed first-hand the devastating effect this horrible disease has on both victims and their loved ones. Soon after his passing, I learned that melanoma is almost 100% preventable. I vowed then to make it my mission to raise awareness of this deadly cancer. My family and I became involved with fundraisers and 5Ks to raise money for melanoma awareness in our community.

A few years later, I became interested in the Miss America organization. As a fifth-grade Girl Scout, I had met Miss Massachusetts 2008. Each young woman who participates in a Miss America Scholarship Organization pageant chooses a platform, or a cause, they feel passionate about. As I listened back then to Miss Massachusetts speaking about her platform of body image awareness, she made a lasting impact on me and my peers. I knew immediately that I wanted to become Miss Massachusetts myself someday. My first step toward reaching that goal was to participate in the Miss Massachusetts’ Outstanding Teen pageant as a freshman in high school, and I chose my platform to be melanoma awareness. I named it “Melanoma Awareness: Educate. Demonstrate. Terminate.”

The Miss America organization served as an avenue for me to spread my message to a broader audience. I held a fundraiser to collect funds for educational materials to distribute to my former high school. Now, students at my alma mater are learning about melanoma in their health classes. I also created my own skin safety program for preschool and elementary school children. I aimed my outreach at children because they are so trusting and they truly listen to what they are taught. I knew that if I told them that they could get wrinkly by not wearing sunscreen, they would definitely wear sunscreen, and probably would convince their parents and families to do the same.

I have presented my skin safety program to many groups of children around the state, including Girls Scout troops, Boy Scout troops, preschool classes, school-age classes, library groups, etc. It is surreal to me that just as Miss Massachusetts visited my Girl Scout troop and taught me about her platform, I am now visiting Girl Scout troops and teaching them about my platform. Seven years after I first became motivated to achieve my goal, I am still working toward becoming Miss Massachusetts and I am amazed by how much this organization has helped me raise awareness of my platform.

I am very excited about my new partnership with Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation and this wonderful opportunity to expand my platform even further!

Sun, Mr. Golden Sun Please shine down on me!

natalie Mr. SunHe is one of my closest friends. I sang about him in Barney songs and basically grew up with him by my side. He was all around me. Every day after school, my family would go to our cabana at The Breakers on Palm Beach and spend countless hours with him. Wherever I went-to the pool, the beach, the playground, nature walks with my dad-he was always there too. I would do my homework and then set out for whatever adventures lay before me in paradise.

He has been there through it all. All of my best memories from my childhood, adolescence, and now into adulthood are with him. He is home! He is literally everything I miss about home and the reason why I cannot stand the gloomy Northeast. He makes me feel better about myself-skinny, glowing, and beautiful. His personality is every color of the rainbow. He comes in through the window and fills any room with his booming personality. But he can make you feel cold and sad too when he is not there. I love him. I loved everything about him-he gave me meaning as a girl from the Sunshine State. Imagine that? A whole entire state named after him, that’s how loved, adored, and desired he is - there is no other place I would call home. His kiss was sweet-and it was not just a small kiss, but a kiss all over, and though fleeting, the memory of it is everlasting.

No matter how sweet he may be, though, or how happy he made me, or how many memories we shared, he would always burn me. He taught me to never fully trust anyone, no matter how you feel about their presence. But this took a long time to realize. Almost two decades, as a matter of fact. Mr. Sun and I recently went through a rough patch in our relationship. He stabbed me in the back and did something I just never thought would happen to me. His kiss and his burns became a cancer. He betrayed me in the worst way possible. How could he do this to me? We had always been there through it all together. He was my constant companion. His warmth set me free, but now he just felt cold and mean.

Scars are a constant reminder of where we have been and the trial and tribulations we have overcome, whether they are metaphysical or real. This was real. I have never felt a pain like this in my life. I could feel the burn in every part of my body-it was the most painful, eye opening experience of my life. I couldn’t walk for almost two months. I couldn’t bend over, go to the bathroom, sit, stand, bath, without pain. It took over me. Recovering from what he did to me was hard. He has humbled me and made me feel like less of a person. He took something away from me. He has robbed me of youth-it is something I will never get back, but something I have learned to get over. My mortality has become real to me-I have learned the hard way that I am not invincible. It was silly to trust him.

Someone I trusted to never hurt me, or slowly kill me for that matter, did the unthinkable. Sure he had done it to others before, still does it now, and will continue to harm those who are not wary, but me? Yea, right. In a million years I would have never thought my friend would do this to me.

But we always come back. Letting go of our relationship has been rough-I saw him in Punta Cana over spring break. He begged me to just soak in his warmth a little bit. I missed him-his touch, his kiss, the way he made me feel about myself, so I let him, and I got burned yet again. My parents yelled at me for seeing him. How could they not after what he did? I still miss him though, and wish we didn’t have to part ways so early in life. His friends try to give me the same feeling, but it is just not there. He is so natural and ever present, that I can’t replace him.

They say that time heals all, and that is true of some things, such as the scars he has left me with, but I believe that the many years we have left of trying to avoid each other will be an uphill battle. Our love-hate relationship may continue, but I refuse to get stabbed in the back by him again.

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