educate

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Sun

 A

Avoid unprotected exposure to sunlight, seek shade, and never indoor tan.

 W Wear sun protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses year-round.
 A Apply recommended amounts of broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sunburn protection factor (SPF) ≥ 30 to all exposed skin and reapply every two hours, or as needed.
 R Routinely examine your whole body for changes in your skin and report suspicious changes to a parent or healthcare provider.
 E Educate your family and community about the need to be SunAWARE.

Educate

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Adapted from CMPF Friend and Volunteer Pattie Day’s message at the CMPF Gala Fundraiser in April 2018:
jacks senior pic 1My 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.

 

After a little over a year of work on my own using the resources on the CMPF website, I finally reached out to Maryellen directly. In less than a week, I was contacted by Maura Flynn. This past September, Maura made the more than four-hour trip to our small community in Central New York to share her gift. The gift of education. Over the course of two days, Maura made seven presentations in four different schools—educating more than 2,200 students, from Pre-K through 12th grade, along with our more than 400 faculty and staff members. I know that not every student and adult will never again be in the sun unprotected, nor will they all stop using tanning beds. But, the seed of knowledge has been planted and conversations have taken place. It is now my job to keep the conversations going and help that seed of knowledge grow. Because of the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, I have the resources needed to do just that with the students and staff in our district and with the members of our entire community. With Maura's help and the support of the CMPF, the first step of my goal has been taken and I promise to continue this journey, in honor of my son. For that I am so very grateful. Your organization is not only helping to save lives, it is helping me to heal.

I would like to close with the first prayer I ever learned, from my grandmother, and one that I wear on my wrist every day: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Thank you Maryellen, Maura and everyone involved with the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation for giving me the courage to change the things I can.

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