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Day Capital Hill 2019“What am I doing here?” “What in the world do I have to offer?” “Please don’t make me say anything. I don’t have any expertise, and will sound stupid and make a fool of CMPF.”


These were the thoughts that were going through my head in early September as I sat in Washington, D.C. attending the 2019 American Academy of Dermatology Association’s Legislative Conference. My name is Pattie Day and I am a 51-year-old mom and an elementary teacher’s aide from Ilion, NY (Central NY). I am married and blessed to be the mother of three sons. I have a good education under my belt, but no letters, like RN, NP, PA, MD, PhD, etc, after my name. So why was I there?


It seems that life can offer some of the greatest education and expertise, whether we want it or not. On November 9, 2009, our oldest son, Jack, was diagnosed with melanoma. One lone mole on the top of his head put him on a path facing surgeries, treatments, biopsies, more surgeries and more treatments over a period of 6 years. We lost Jack on August 7, 2015, just 18 days before his 22nd birthday. So what did I have to offer? I had Jack’s story. I had the personal proof that our leaders in Washington needed to take action, to support the efforts of all of the amazing and dedicated dermatologists and nurses that surrounded me during those four days in Washington. I knew that our leaders in D.C. must help organizations like Children Melanoma Prevention Foundation provide their SunAWARE Program to help them fight their good fight without restrictions or hurdles. I knew that we ALL needed to encourage our leaders to support our children being educated about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure, skin cancer prevention and proper sun protection.


It was such an honor and a very humbling experience, as I sat in the ballroom of the Willard InterContinental, to listen to and have the chance to meet dermatologists from around the country and to share my son’s story with many of them. To hear them speak so passionately about the work they do, why they do it and the struggles they often face trying to get their patients the treatments they needed brought me to tears.


Then, on Tuesday, September 10th, I was on Capitol Hill with board certified dermatologists, dermatology residents and nurses from across New York State. We met with the aides to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer, Rep. Thomas Souzzi, Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Anthony Brindisi, my local representative. Soon after my visit, I received correspondence from Rep. Brindisi’s legislative director advising me that Rep. Brindisi had agreed to co-sponsor House Resolution 323!! This resolution was drafted to support state, local, and community initiatives in preventing sunburns among children and therefore reducing skin cancer. (https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hres323/BILLS-116hres323ih.pdf)
And to think that I, a mom and teacher’s aide from a small town in Central NY, had played a role in that happening. On October 10th, I attended Rep. Brindisi’s Town Hall meeting in New Hartford, NY and had the opportunity to speak to him during the open forum. I thanked him for his support of House Resolution 323 and encouraged him to join the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus, which he promised he would do. I will continue to follow up with him until I have received verification that he has done so.


Jack Day Football photoI miss my son every moment of every day. Our lives and our family will never be the same. There are moments I feel like I can’t go on without him, then there are days that I can simply cherish the nearly 22 years I was blessed to be his mom, and he my son. The pain will never go away completely, but it softens. The Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation has given me opportunities that I could have never imagined. With their help, the 2,200+ students in our school district have been educated on skin cancers and the dangers of unprotected sun exposure. With their help, I have stood on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and shared Jack’s story. With their help, I have found a way to honor my son. With their help, I have made a difference.

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