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By the time you are reading this, you are probably back to school. Hayden and I have been back for about one month. Where I live in New England, the weather has been unusually hot! Unless it is raining really hard, we usually go outside for recess. At our school, we have two playgrounds; the little kids usually use the one closer to the school, and the bigger kids go to the one next to the soccer field. We can choose to play on the playground, or play in the field. The problem is, it’s really hot and really sunny. Don’t get me wrong, if I had to choose recess or staying in class, I would definitely choose recess, but the thing is....there really isn’t any shade anywhere except for one tiny area under the play structure, and there is usually a ton of kids there. So, when we are outside for recess or gym, we are mostly in the sun. Sometimes we feel like we are actually “cooking” when we are outside. Fortunately, we have been checking the UV Index each day and realize that although it is hot the average UV Index is much lower than in the spring or summer. This past month the UV has been mostly moderate, 5-7 on a scale from 1 to 11+.
Before school, my mom or dad has us put on sunscreen before we leave the house. Our recess is after lunch, which happens to be around 12:30 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon. I know that this is the time of day that UV rays are strongest. I knew that the sunscreen bottle said that you need to be reapply every 2 hours.  However, I learned last spring, in a SunAWARE class, that this means after two hours exposed to UV rays.  I also learned that UV rays break down sunscreen. The higher the UV the faster sunscreen disappears off your skin and you loose its protective benefit. The rule to reapply every 2 hours is really a recommendation based on research that shows sunscreen only lasts about 2 hours when exposed UV radiation. I was really glad to hear this because my problem is, it is so hard to remember to put it on again, and it is kind of a pain to do it too. I think that I mentioned in a previous blog that I do not like to feel sticky from sunscreen. What is worse, is feeling sticky and then going to eat lunch. Gross!! I am really happy to know now that the sunscreen that I applied before I left home is still going to protect me for the recess period. I now know that after recess, because of UV exposure and sweating, I would need to reapply before going out again. I also recommend wearing a UV shirt and hat to school, but I heard some schools won’t let you wear hats at recess. So what is a kid to do?? It’s not always easy to protect yourself.

canopy tentBeing back in school is good and bad. I really like the summer and the fact that we don’t have homework, but I missed my friends. Since we got back to school, It has been really hot; like 90 degrees or hotter for a whole bunch of days. Going outside for recess and gym has been pretty miserable, but we are only outside for 30 minutes. I kinda feel bad for my friends who play sports; it is still really hot and sunny, and they are out there for 2 hours after school and on the weekends. Most of the ball fields don’t really have any shade. I noticed that many of my friends have become pretty tan, but I haven’t noticed any of them sunburned.

I know that shade is one of the best ways to block the sun’s UV rays, but this really isn’t an option at my school or town. UV protective clothing is also a great idea, but kids that play on a team, like baseball or Shade Structures for sportssoccer, have to wear a uniform. I don’t think their uniforms are UV protective. It seems that wearing sunscreen is a no-brainer! But I gotta tell you, having sunscreen on your face that runs into your eyes when you get sweaty, really stings! Plus having slippery hands from greasy sunscreen makes catching or throwing a baseball or football pretty hard to do.

So what does this all mean? Clearly, playing outside sports put kids at risk for sun damage. This is not ideal!! There are simple ways to address this issue. For example, the town could provide tents, or at least large umbrellas for the players to stand under when they are on a break, or when not playing, etc. The coaches could stay under the tent during much of the game too, so they don’t get sunburnt. I know it costs money, but I bet if the town knew how important being SunAWARE was, they would agree to do something. Also, kids could have some sort of a fundraiser to raise money for these things. Another idea is for the team uniforms to be UV protective, and to include a wide brimmed-hat (this may not look so great, but would be sun-safe!)

Since some kids play sports or do outside activities starting from when they are really young, the amount of time that they are exposed is huge. Protection from the sun’s damaging rays over those years is really important. Sun safety for players should be an important consideration for towns and schools!!!

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The creative juices and drinks were flowing at the most recent fundraiser held by the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation. Supporters and friends of the foundation got together for a “Paint Night” in Hanover on Thursday evening, putting their artistic ability to the test. With the help of a talented instructor, a fun-loving atmosphere and of course, some fine wine, even those doubtful of their artistic ability were able to produce boast-worthy paintings. The comprehensive, step-by-step painting lesson made even the most amateur artist feel like Picasso for a night. If that didn’t do it, the encouragement and light-hearted laughter surrounding the room certainly did.

The intimate gathering consisted of delicious food, cool refreshments, and delightful conversation amongst a friendly group of professionals, leaders, and friends. Each person was supplied with a canvas, paints, brushes and careful instruction on how to create colorful hydrangeas. On top of the opportunity to create a piece of art, the lucky winners of the two raffles held that evening also brought home thoughtfully crafted gift baskets. One winner, Susan McCarthy, cheerfully held her stylish beach bag, equipped with sunblock and a UV detector. Susan Keyes, winner of the final raffle, gained a wine-lovers’ essentials kit, complete with an ice bucket, glasses, and other related accessories. However, I can safely say that we all felt like winners as we rinsed our brushes and hands of acrylics after a completed masterpiece.
As someone who is new to the Foundation, and new to painting, I can honestly report how welcomed I felt by the group of amazing individuals I met that evening. Though in particular, Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, Erin Presutti, and Susan Keyes took great strides to make the whole night possible, everyone present that evening had something authentic and meaningful to offer one another. Whether it had been kind words, helpful insight, a playful jest or even a refill, countless friendly impressions were made. The generous proceeds earned by fundraisers certainly are valuable to any foundation; however, the people that have shown their devotion to a worthwhile cause are truly priceless. This fundraiser has shown to me that this foundation is certainly rich in this category. For someone seeking great networking, a great time, and a great cause, a night out with the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation is the way to go.

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.

As a teenager, I get it; acne is a PAIN. Not only does the irritated skin actually ache, it’s also unappealing to the eye and touch. It destroys your Acne Blog Post self-confidence, and while makeup can conceal some pimples, it can never entirely mask the discoloration and uneven skin texture caused by acne.
As a result, many teenagers use over-the-counter and/or prescription medication to help alleviate the physical pain and emotional anxiety caused by acne. In severe cases, UV exposure in the form of indoor tanning is prescribed by doctors to relieve acne, and other skin problems like psoriasis and eczema. However, this prompts many teens to wrongly believe that self-medicating with tanning salon sessions will have a similar curing effect.
While it won’t eliminate acne permanently, the UV exposure will temporarily tighten pores which, for maybe a day, will appear to decrease the number of pimples. They then return worse than before as the skin has been irritated. Further, the skin cells have been zapped with UVR which may trigger the response that leads to skin cancer.
Another problem for those who have acne is that many of the aforementioned medications cause sun sensitivity, which means skin is more susceptible to sunburn and UV damage. Some of the worst offenders according to are:

* benzoyl peroxide, BenzaClin, Benzamycin
* Accutane (isotretinoin)
* Products containing alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc.)
* Antibiotics like doxycyline, metronidazole, erythromycin and Bactrim
* Retinoids like Retin-A, Differin, Tazorac, Ziana

Certain treatment procedures for severe cases of acne, including microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and some laser treatments, can also increase sun sensitivity.

Acne can be a difficult condition to clear, but increasing your risk of skin cancer in the process is not the answer. Protecting your skin from the sun's rays is always important, but it becomes even more so when your acne treatment(s) cause(s) photosensitivity. Be SunAWARE to fit your life: wear a cute wide-brimmed hat, make conscientious choices like including SPF makeup in your daily routine, and apply great smelling broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day (choose a brand that is labeled oil-free and noncomdogenic or non-acnegenic, so it won't trigger more breakouts). Apply your medications first, and wait for 20 minutes or so to allow the treatment to dry completely; you can then apply your sunscreen over the top. Being healthy doesn’t have to be a hassle, nor must it impede progress in your efforts to clear your skin. Being SunAWARE is a lifestyle, so embrace skincare in all aspects.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and instances of melanoma have been steadily rising in recent years, especially in young adults and children. Tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year. If your child has been diagnosed with melanoma, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help by providing your family with a monthly financial benefit to offset the costs of treatment.

Supplementary Security Income
The SSA offers two types of disability assistance, but children are only eligible to receive Supplementary Security Income (SSI). SSI is for people of all ages who have not worked throughout their lives.

SSI is a needs-based program, meaning families with a high income will not qualify, regardless of how severe their child’s melanoma is. The system the SSA uses to decide how much your monthly payments can be is complicated. It examines all of the income available to the child, including both your income and the child’s, if applicable.

The SSA has a guide on how much a family can earn and still have a child qualify for disability benefits. The larger your family, the more likely you are to qualify financially. A single parent with one disabled child cannot earn more than approximately $36,000 per year to qualify. Again, larger families will have higher income limits.

Medically Qualifying with Malignant Melanoma
The SSA keeps a listing of impairments, called the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a medical guide with the symptoms or test results needed for an applicant to medically qualify for disability benefits. Childhood malignant melanoma can be found under section 113.29. The listing includes all three types of melanoma: cutaneous (skin), ocular (eyes), and mucosal (mucus).

You must equal or meet one of the following conditions:
1. Your melanoma is recurrent after either widespread skin or eye melanoma was surgically removed.
2. Spreading of the cancer to any lymph nodes (small organs throughout the body that filter and clean blood) that can be easily found by imaging tests or clinical examinations, to at least four lymph nodes that aren’t easily identified, or to other organs.
3. You have mucus melanoma.

Malignant melanoma is on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances List (CAL). The CAL is a list of severe diseases that always medically qualify for disability benefits, so the SSA speeds up the process for approval. Your claim can be approved and your child can start receiving benefits within a few weeks.

Applying for SSI with Malignant Melanoma
Before starting the application, make sure to check out the SSA’s Child Disability Starter Kit for an idea of required documents and other material needed prior to applying. You can start the application for your child online, but must make an appointment with your local SSA office to finish the process. The SSA has an office locator for applicants who do not know where their closest office is.

You need to include all of the necessary medical evidence to prove that your child meets or equals one of the listings. This may include a biopsy of the tumor, imaging results, lab reports, descriptions and outcomes of treatments and surgeries, and explanations of hospitalizations. For more information visit:

UV IndexWe just learned about something called, the UV Index! UV stands for ultraviolet. The UV Index is a scale that tells you how strong the UV rays will be for a day, so you know how much sun protection you will need and what to wear. It is based on a scale of 1 – 11+. Most people think that the UV is high when the temperature is high. That is true but kids need to know that UV can be just as high in April when it is fifty degrees as in August when it is 100 degrees. The only way you can really know how strong the UV intensity is would be by using a UV meter or checking the UV Index. An index of 11 is considered “extreme” and it doesn’t matter what the temperature is. It just means that you have a really high chance of getting a sunburn. An index of 1 would be a very, very low chance of getting as sunburn. By knowing the UV index for the day, you know how much protection you will need; like what to wear and how much sunscreen you will need. The UV Index will be different depending on where you live in the world. So if you want to know what the UV Index will be for where YOU live, you can find it in lots of places. An easy way is to search online. A good website is The UV Awareness Website. It’s pretty cool- you just need to type in your zip code. You can also hear it on TV or the radio in the weather report. You can also find it in your newspaper.
Hayden and I came up with our own UV it is:
EXPOSURE                                           INDEX NUMBER                                                               SUN PROTECTION MESSAGE
Low                                                                           1-2                                                                               Grab hat and you are ready to go
Moderate                                                               3-5                                                                               It’s hot
High                                                                          6-7                                                                                Let’s find a pool
Very                                                                          8-10                                                                             Sizzling: I’m feeling like bacon
Extreme                                                                 11+                                                                               STAY INSIDE AND PLAY A GAME!!

My family and I were at an amusement park yesterday; it was really hot out, and really bright! It was kind of hard to see. Anyways, my mom offered to buy me some sunglasses because she must have seen Hayden with sunglasses up closeme squinting. The store actually had some pretty cool pairs...and since my mom was offering to buy them, I figured why not? So, I chose a pair of black ones that had the lenses that when you look at them, they change colors, but what was really important was the little sticker that was on the lens. That sticker said they were 100% UVA and UVB blocking. [Basically, that means that they block the damaging suns’ rays that can harm your eyes]. It’s really important that when choosing sunglasses, that you choose ones that block both UVA and UVB rays (look for a sticker or some sort of tag on them... if they don’t have one, don’t get them). Sunglasses that cover the entire eye are best because they cover the sides too...they are called “wraparound sunglasses”, (those are the kind I’m wearing).

So, if your mom or someone else ever offers to buy you sunglasses, GET THEM, not only will you look cool, but your eyes will be protected!

Last week, I attended a State house hearing on Massachusetts’s Senate Bill 1229, “An act further regulating tanning facilities.”Summer Interns ME The Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation Executive Director, Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, along with a foundation educator, Maura Flynn, testified in support of the bill to the Public Health Committee. Their testimonies were articulate and informative providing statistics on pediatric and adult melanoma distribution, as well as sharing their personal experiences in caring for patients with skin cancer. They stated that research supports that the high distribution of skin cancer cases among teenage girls and young women was due to overexposure to UV rays, including indoor tanning. They suggested that banning teens from indoor tanning was one way to reduce the risk for this deadly disease. Senator Richard J. Ross, inquired if there were solid statistics proving it was indoor tanning that caused skin cancer rather than a more “natural” acquisition. Maryellen responded that indoor tanning was shown in case controlled studies to increase an individual’s risk of melanoma by 76%, however their were no statistics that showed the exact number of cases. Maura also did a great job of educating the committee on how the state regulations outline the inspection process carried out by public health nurses and agents as well as the parental consent requirements.
Glen Asaro, a firefighter, father of five teenagers, and tanning salon owner, provided testimony in opposition of the bill. He made the argument that indoor tanning has many “benefits” for teenagers including improving acne and boosting self-esteem. He said that an under 18 ban would negatively impact his income. After the hearing, Françoise and I asked Maryellen about this acne comment. She explained that the reason UV rays improve acne is that it decreases the body’s immune response in the skin, which reduces inflammation and acne looks better. She said that dermatologists treat psoriasis and eczema with UV light too, but patients are warned about their increased risk for skin cancer.
As, a rising senior at a public high school, I witness the indoor tanning problem firsthand. Teenage girls have gotten the idea that unnaturally colored skin is the key to feeling confident and beautiful. In glamor magazines, writers regard a trip to the tanning salon with any other pre-event grooming practice like a mani/pedi or finding the right dress. While I blame Hollywood and Photoshop for much of today’s teen-confidence crisis, I also feel that a certain amount of blame should be shared with the general population. These girls feel pressured to fit society’s definition of beauty, and are sacrificing their health to achieve it. During her testimony, Maryellen testified that a student had questioned her why one had to be 18 to get a tattoo, yet only 16 to go indoor tanning. She said that the student surmised that indoor tanning must be more dangerous than tattooing. The unfortunate thing is that salon owners do not seem to comprehend the personal health risk of indoor tanning to American teenagers.
Joseph Levy, Executive Director of the International Smart Tan Network, discounted the earlier testimony stating that the skin cancer statistics were inflated and inaccurate. It seemed to me that his testimony was very insulting to the medical professionals. Mr. Levy repeatedly said that these “overstatements” and “misinformation” are causing public confusion regarding the topic of indoor tanning, and that his organization’s intention was to “clear up this confusion”. My personal reaction to this statement was this: a person dying isn’t really confusing. I’m not saying that one visit to a tanning salon or one sunburn will kill you. In fact, I won’t even go so far as to say that UV exposure will harm you. All I will say is that a vast majority of healthcare professionals say that, whether indoor or outdoor, tanning can cause skin cancer. And personally, I recognize that medical professionals know a little more about health than I do.
I learned quite a lot from attending this hearing, and after thinking about all of this information, I have created the central concept of my mini-testimony on the topic: many products or practices are “good for you” (or at least not dangerous) in moderation. However, even the most healthy of these practices, for example, drinking water, can be harmful in excessive quantity (most people don’t know that by drinking too much water in one sitting, one can actually drown inside his/her own body). My point isn’t that you should stop drinking water, it’s that “moderation” has a different definition for every product with which it is associated. UV exposure, in moderation, is healthy. In fact, without Vitamin D, we’d die. However, by going outside into that place called nature with appropriate protection (like sunscreen), we are getting our moderate exposure. Moderation definitely isn’t laying in a tanning bed while being bombarded with UV rays 6 times stronger than those coming from the sun, especially for adolescents whose bodies are still growing and developing. Why risk self-harm for a temporary remedy for the confidence crisis plaguing our society? Don’t endorse choosing “beauty” over health. Instead, be SunAWARE.

I know that I shouldn’t be writing about these things because this is a blog about staying Sun Safe! Since my parents tell me I shouldn’t lie, I have to be honest... I dislike sunscreen, actually, I hate it! It’s not because I want to be tan – I don’t! It’s the feeling that sunscreen brings! To me, I always want it off of me because it feels very weird, sticky, greasy, but I know that is protects me!
Ok, so the truth is out, you now know I hate sunscreen! So what? Who cares that some random 11 year-old hates sunscreen? But I know a lot of you out there probably hate it too! So... what are our other choices? I know my mom won’t let me out in the sun without some kind of protection! So... my choices are:
1.) Wrap trash bags around my whole body and then go outside and play
2.) Only play outside at midnight!
3.) Play outside only on rainy days when the sun isn’t out!
I know those aren’t realistic choices, so seriously, what are some other options?
One really good option is sun-protective clothing! Sun-protective clothing is, well... clothing! Some are specially made to protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays! And some can be plain old regular clothes from your closet! Depending on the fabric your clothing is made of gives you a higher/lower chance of getting sunburned! This is measured by something called UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) – which measures the amount of UV radiation that gets through the fabric and reaches your skin. Some are better than others! Which ones are the best? Here’s a simple explanation from the Skin Cancer Foundation: “The easiest way to test if a fabric can protect your skin is to hold it up to the light. If you can see through it, then UV radiation can penetrate it - and your skin.”

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