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”.