The Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation was established in 2003 to deliver a comprehensive sun safety and melanoma awareness program, free of charge, to children and their caregivers. Providing children with a better understanding of UV intensity and sun sensitivity, as well as proper sun protection and skin cancer recognition.
I grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida in the 1960s and early 1970's. I was one of those red-headed light skinned people, who wanted to be tan but only succeeded in getting more freckles. SO I added the iodine to the baby oil, slathered it on and fried like bacon for hours on the beach. That was before the days when we learned about the unhealthy consequences of too much sun exposure.
So of course, when I learned that this was harmful, I stopped those bad behaviors switching (reluctantly) to sunscreen with SPF 4 or 8. And since I live in Massachusetts now, I only used sunscreen when I was on the beach. In my more mature adult years I never really burned, but did find out that I had a significant amount of sun damaged skin. Who cares? I thought...I'm no fashion model, but I did stop spending so much time in the sun.
Fast forward to April 2017. I got a new job and they wanted me to have a TB test for my pre-employment physical. Since I already reacted to this skin test I had to have a chest X-ray instead (this has to happen every 5 years and my next one was not due until April 2019). Two days before starting work I got a call that was the beginning of big changes in my life.
The X-ray showed that something was growing on my lung. More X-rays...CT scans...MRIs...PET scans...removal of the right middle lobe of my lung (October 2017) and a surprising and perplexing diagnosis STAGE 4 METASTATIC MELANOMA!
Melanoma Incidence Rates in the UK and Prevention Methods by Siva Veeramani MBBS, BMed.Sci(Hons), MRCS, MBA ,FRCS (Guest Blogger)
Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, affecting approximately 15,400 people each year. The incidence of malignant melanoma is increasing at a faster rate than any other cancer in the UK. Since the 1970’s the incidence of melanoma has quadrupled, and this trend is continuing. This is particularly worrying in men where the increase in incidence is the second fastest to grow over the past decade.
Melanoma is now the most common cancer in young adults aged between 15 to 34 years of age. In this age sub-group females have a higher incidence than males. However, these are crude statistics and there is little research on the exact etiology of melanomas in this sub-group (e.g. host factors such as ethnicity or environmental factors such as behavioural risks).
Enright Melanoma Foundation Partenrs to Provide Free Online Sun Safety Programs
We share the same belief as the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation that education is key in the fight against skin cancer. Youth spend a significant amount of time outdoors, and with skin cancer rates dramatically increasing, it's important to teach them about good sun protection habits starting at an early age.
The Enright Melanoma Foundation, is a doctor-led, prevention focused, non-profit organization whose mission is to raise sun safety awareness and to help prevent melanoma through education and early detection. We are transforming the way we learn about sun safety.
Our skin cancer professionals have developed free, online programs called the Enright Sun Safety Certification™ programs for ages 5 and over. The programs use the Enright Sun Safety ACE™ to guide the learner through topics. The ACE represents an important, easy to remember message to: Apply Cover Enjoy™.
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: My 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.
On 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
AUCKLAND, 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.
Community 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”.