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I had arranged for a family friend, Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, to come to my high school to provide an assembly on skin cancer prevention.
My Mother was a dermatologist and I knew that one person died every forty-five minutes from skin cancer, a preventable disease. I wanted to share this important prevention information with my friends. You can imagine how surprised I was when one of my best friends, a young woman of African ABlack Teenagermerican descent, whined, “I am only going to this program because I know that it is important to you.”

Fortunately for both of us, she soon realized that this health problem was more important that she had realized. Initially, while looking around the room at all of the light skinned girls, she felt as if she didn't need to know about skin cancer prevention. This attitude changed immediately when the presenter said, Bob Marley died of melanoma. What, she thought, you must be joking Bob Marley died of skin cancer. That fact really caught her attention. She then learned that anybody can get skin cancer anywhere on their body. She left the SunAWARE program feeling more aware and confident about taking care of her skin.

Later, at lunch, she lectured me on how melanin protects you from sun damage and skin cancer. She said that she now realized that although she had more melanin than I did, we both needed to protect ourselves from the sun. My friend learned that although she is at low risk for melanoma that it could affect people of color. I was so happy that she found the program meaningful.

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