Our second community education class was Thurs May 3rd and was a great success! There were a few people that registered and didn't end up showing up, but all in all, good turn-out. Dr. Mings, our dermatologist spoke a little longer this time, touching on all skin types of skin cancer, not just melanoma. He showed lots of pictures of melanomas and other skin cancers that really got everyone's attention. Our nutritionist, Anne Woodhouse, also did a fabulous job presenting information on incorporating cancer-fighting foods into the diet, supplements, whole foods lifestyles, etc. We had great questions and interaction from the participants!
Today, another one of the Sol Survivors, Ruby deBoer and I spoke in the health classes at a local high school, Bishop Kelly. It was an exhausting day because we repeated our presentation 5 times! It was such a powerful experience to talk to these 9th graders about their skin, melanoma, and how to protect and prevent melanoma. I was amazed at the interaction and questions we got from some of the class members, especially the young women. They were, for the most part, very engaged and seemed to get it!
Our agenda for the HS classes went something like this: First we opened it up with questions like, "What do you know about melanoma?", "Who has ever had a sunburn?", "Who has ever used a tanning bed?", and "Who knows someone with melanoma?" It was a great way tofind out what these young kids knew about melanoma and skin cancer. Most of them knew very little, of course. After the questions and discussion, Ruby shared her story (she is Stage 3) and related it to what she was doing at their age that she thinks led to her diagnosis (grew up outside on a farm, little to no sunscreen and then as a teenager, went to tanning beds occassionally). After Ruby's story, we went through our power point which covered facts and statistics (that we thought related to them, plus Idaho statistics), then we went into common myths and misconceptions like, "I need a base tan before I go on vacation" or "Tanning beds are safer than the sun."
Detection was next, where we covered risk factors for melanoma, the ABCDE's, in which we showed pictures of typical and non-typical melanomas and had the class try to figure out what ABCDE's were presenting in these moles/melanomas. After covering detection, we went through some prevention tips, spending a fair amount of time covering sunscreen--how much and how often to reapply, what sunscreens are best, what hours in the day to avoid, protective clothing, etc. We then gave them a hand-out to take home, shared the Dear 16 Year Old Me video on melanoma awareness (they seemed to really enjoy that), and then closed up the class with my story (which I shared a picture of my dark, tanned skin back in my lifeguarding days) and then any last questions.
Our hopes for next year are to get into a lot more schools in the community. I know that we will do that too. We have a good network here and lots of resources, and so I think that is a very strong possibility and outcome. We just need more man-power though! And really, I think having a melanoma survivor share their story and present the info is KEY. It makes our stories and faces more relatable and seems to hit home more.
Watch out world, we are on a mission and the Sol Survivors Melanoma Foundation is going to help prevent melanoma from taking another life!!!