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  • Why Being a Redhead Is So Special! by Kelly Murphy (Summer Intern)

    Growing up as a redhead, I always knew that I needed to wear sunscreen and stay covered to protect my skin. Even though I thought that I knew how to KELLY MURPHY PROFILEkeep my skin healthy year-round, I recall many summer nights lying in bed as the skin on my back peeled off in sheets, in too much pain to move. However, I didn’t realize the real danger of sunburns until I did a summer internship with the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation.

    Redheads, like myself, are a rarity comprising only 2-6% of the total population of the United States. This summer, I learned that people with red hair developed melanoma 10 to 100 times more often than people without redhair. Boston researchers found redheads have a genetic mutation in the melanocytes, pigment producing cells. This mutation affects the melanin and doesn’t let the skin tan and doesn’t protect the cells from UV damage (Collins, NIH, 2013). This increases the likelihood of red heads developing skin cancer including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanoma is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths even though it is often preventable.

    So what does all of this mean for those of us with fair skin and red hair? We need to take special precautions. Listed are practical tips for living a SunAWARE life.
    1. Researchers state that proper daily use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50% (JCO, 2011). It is recommended to use a whole handful for the whole body. It is important to reapply sunscreen every two hours as sunscreen effectiveness decreases as it is degraded when exposed to UV light. Pay close attention to areas of the skin that are not covered with clothing.
    2. Wear a wide brimmed hat which covers the face, ears, and neck. Most skin cancers develop on the tips of the ears and nose. Use extra caution to protect these vulnerable areas.
    3. Avoid indoor tanning. There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is actually evidence of skin damage. People who use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75%.
    4. Redheads should Inspect their skin for new growths or changes and see a dermatologist or healthcare provider for any concerns.
    5. Make sure the sunglasses you are wearing block UV light. Sunglasses without this protection could cause photokeratitis, sunburn of the eye, and could lead to melanoma of the eye. Use eye protection year-round.

    With the incidence of skin cancer steadily increasing, it is important to take this information and educate those who you love. I learned through my internship that most skin cancers are preventable. By providing those you care about with this valuable information, you could save a life.


  • Why Going to Capital Hill Was So Personal To Me! By Pattie Day, Guest Blogger

    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?

  • Why I Chose Melanoma Prevention as my platform in my quest for Miss Massachusetts by Renee Banks

    Renee w GranpaRenee Crown 1Melanoma prevention is more than just a cause to me; it is a passion that has expanded as a result of a personal experience with the disease. When my grandfather passed away in 2008 from melanoma, I witnessed first-hand the devastating effect this horrible disease has on both victims and their loved ones. Soon after his passing, I learned that melanoma is almost 100% preventable. I vowed then to make it my mission to raise awareness of this deadly cancer. My family and I became involved with fundraisers and 5Ks to raise money for melanoma awareness in our community.

    A few years later, I became interested in the Miss America organization. As a fifth-grade Girl Scout, I had met Miss Massachusetts 2008. Each young woman who participates in a Miss America Scholarship Organization pageant chooses a platform, or a cause, they feel passionate about. As I listened back then to Miss Massachusetts speaking about her platform of body image awareness, she made a lasting impact on me and my peers. I knew immediately that I wanted to become Miss Massachusetts myself someday. My first step toward reaching that goal was to participate in the Miss Massachusetts’ Outstanding Teen pageant as a freshman in high school, and I chose my platform to be melanoma awareness. I named it “Melanoma Awareness: Educate. Demonstrate. Terminate.”

    The Miss America organization served as an avenue for me to spread my message to a broader audience. I held a fundraiser to collect funds for educational materials to distribute to my former high school. Now, students at my alma mater are learning about melanoma in their health classes. I also created my own skin safety program for preschool and elementary school children. I aimed my outreach at children because they are so trusting and they truly listen to what they are taught. I knew that if I told them that they could get wrinkly by not wearing sunscreen, they would definitely wear sunscreen, and probably would convince their parents and families to do the same.

    I have presented my skin safety program to many groups of children around the state, including Girls Scout troops, Boy Scout troops, preschool classes, school-age classes, library groups, etc. It is surreal to me that just as Miss Massachusetts visited my Girl Scout troop and taught me about her platform, I am now visiting Girl Scout troops and teaching them about my platform. Seven years after I first became motivated to achieve my goal, I am still working toward becoming Miss Massachusetts and I am amazed by how much this organization has helped me raise awareness of my platform.

    I am very excited about my new partnership with Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation and this wonderful opportunity to expand my platform even further!

  • Winter Sun Safety: Protecting Your Skin by Ann Marie Powers R.N., Curry College Student

    hiking in snow

    Printed with permission from South Shore Hospital's Youth Health Connection Newsletter 

    It is wintertime here in New England, and for many of us, it means hitting the slopes. Whether you are a skier, snowboarder or skater, you must know the importance of protecting your skin – even with below freezing temperatures. Ultraviolet rays are more dangerous at higher altitudes, reflecting off the snow and onto our skin. This makes us just as susceptible to skin damage in the cold winter months as in the summer months! Even just a few minutes of high sun exposure a day can lead to noticeable changes to the skin and will accelerate facial aging, making you look much older than you really are. Who wants that?

    To protect your youthful skin from sun damage, perhaps even preventing a deadly melanoma, remember these tips before hitting the slopes:

    -Wear an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30 sunscreen on your face with broad-spectrum protection (protecting against Ultraviolet A & Ultraviolet B rays).
    -Apply this before stepping outside and heading to the mountain for the day and remember to apply every two hours. Snow and strong wind can wear away sunscreen.
    -Wear good sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes, eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes. Each of these is common sites for skin cancers.
    - Lip skin is very thin! Be mindful and apply SPF there too. Use a lip-balm with at least a SPF 15. These lip-balms are easy to carry and easy to use.
    - Pay attention to the early signs of sun damage – uneven pigmentation, lesions and changes in mole appearance. Go see a dermatologist! To learn more about the ABCDE’s of skin changes visit:

    For more information on skin cancer visit:
    To learn how to read a sunscreen label visit:


  • Your Epidermis is Showing! by Maryellen Maguire-Eisen (Executive Director)

    When people ask me how I got into the field of dermatology/oncology nursing and skin cancer prevention, I reflect back on a childhood memory. From the red headtime I was in kindergarten, I would delight in telling my friends “I can see your epidermis” delivered as one of those obnoxious taunts. Their reactions showed me that I had correctly guessed that they did not know that “epidermis” was the medical term for the skin. Today, I wonder if I was just being a vocabulary bully or having a flash of my future professional life.
    Fast forward 50 years and I am still choosing vocabulary words to make an impact on people. Today, however, I am not trying to taunt with my words but rather to educate and motivate children about sun safety. Because my training and experience has taught me that sun damage in childhood leads to skin cancers in later life, this is where education and motivation must begin. For this reason, I started Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation in 2003.
    Experts now estimate that there will be 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer this year alone. One person dies every 45 minutes from this preventable disease. Prevention is the key to reversing this frightening trend. And it must begin in childhood.
    Tragically, skin cancer in the last thirty years is steadily rising among children. This trend is most likely due to the increased incidents of sunburn among children and the popularity of indoor tanning among teens. This, coupled with my firsthand experience in caring for patients dying of skin cancer, is why the foundation’s work is so important to me personally.
    The Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation was founded to teach children and their caretakers safe and proven methods of sun protection and skin cancer prevention. How do we do this? Specifically, we teach children about the factors that affect UV intensity and skin sensitivity, as well as proven methods of sun protection and skin cancer recognition. We do this not through fear tactics but rather through fun and informative activities. Each year we teach thousands of children, teachers, nurses, and parents in the hope that we can empower them to practice what we preach, Be Safe. Be SunAWARE.





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