Thursday, March 1, 2012

Community Education class

Our first community education class, called Safe In the Sun, was held tonight and I am pleased to announce that it was a success! We put a lot of hard work into it--Janice Dilworth, Lisa Bulow, and myself (all melanoma survivors and co-founders of the Idaho SOL Survivors). We were worried a couple of weeks prior that we weren't going to get even 5 people registered for the class, but we ended up getting around 30!

The agenda we laid out went very smoothly. We first opened the class up with a brief introduction of ourselves and then played the Dear 16 Year Old Me video. Such a great video on melanoma awareness. Then we introduced Dr. Steven Mings, a local, well-known dermatologist in the Boise area. He spoke for about 20 min on education--the ABCDE's of melanoma and our moles and how to prevent skin cancer. He did an excellent job and the class asked him some really good questions.

Then the agenda was turned over to Anne Woodhouse, a local holistic nutritionist, to speak about the importance of eating whole foods and which foods and supplements we should incorporate into our diet that fight cancer (and are just plain good for you). She had an incredible presentation and was also well-received.

Blake Sampson, a medical student going into dermatology, and also heading up the tanning bill legislation with Rep. Rousche of Idaho, ran through some statistics on melanoma--first global, then national, then Idaho. He explained this legislation that we are working on passing--that will ban minors from using indoor tanning devices--and what WE can do to get the House and Senate to pass this bill (such as write letters to our Reps). We are so grateful that we met Blake a few weeks ago and have been able to work closely with him on this bill. He is also the AIM for Melanoma Chairperson of Idaho and hopefully in the future, will want to work with us in our foundation as well.

After all of the presentations and questions, I closed out the class with a short speech that I wrote late the night before. Originally, I was going to use a speech that I had used from a previous event last year for the American Cancer Society, modified a bit. Well, the day before, the speech that I had changed just wasn't sitting well with me and so I ended up writing an entirely different speech. I called it "The Black Intruder". It was hard for me to not get emotional sharing my story through my speech. I think everyone liked it though and I hope that everyone that participated left feeling not fearful of melanoma, but empowered with the knowledge and tools of how to prevent it, inspired to take charge of their health, and hopeful for the future in finding a cure for this horrible disease. That was the message that I sought to give, and I hope that I accomplished that.

The class or evening couldn't have gone any better. But what really sealed the deal is that we had a reporter and photographer from the NY Times at our class! No joke! I still don't know how they found out about our class, but they wanted to write a story on why Idaho is ranked so high for melanoma incidence and deaths in the country, and the whole controversy with the tanning legislation. It was so cool!

We are so excited about the momentum that we are gaining with our cause and mission to increase awareness and education in the community. Our next step is to get our foundation established as a non-profit, continue to teach community education classes as well as possibly speak in junior high and high school health classes, and then plan some fundraisers. It will be a gradual process though because all 3 of us are VERY busy women, wives, and mothers and so we are trying to take this one step at a time. Right now, the goal is to get the paper work done and get our website up and running. Exciting things in the future and we can't wait to make a difference and save lives!

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