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Sun Safe Kids

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MELANOMA ABC'S
SELF EXAMINATION
TYPES OF SUNSCREEN
MELANOMA FOUNDATION EXPOSED VIDEO
RACHEL'S VIDEO PRESENTATION
PUBLIC SPEAKING
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HEALTH CHECK CHANNEL 10 INTERVIEW
URI TRUTH ABOUT TANNING 2013
TEENS ON TANNING FORUM 2013
PROVIDENCE JOURNAL VIDEO COVERAGE OF 2013 TEENS ON TANNING FORUM
SHADES OF HOPE GALA 2013
MELANOMA AWARENESS PROJECT 2012
SHADES OF HOPE GALA 2011/2012
TRUTH ABOUT TANNING FORUM 2011
TEENS ON TANNING FORUM 2011
SHADE FOUNDATION POSTER CONTEST
BUBBLES AND BITES 2009
BUBBLES AND BITES 2008
BETTY'S CANDIES

This site is to inform kids that you have to be safe in the sun.

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MY EXPERIENCE WITH MELANOMA

My name is Rachel D’Ambrosio.  In March 2008, I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.  I am only 11. This is my story.

     I live in a beach community in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  I have always grown up on the water.  My parents have a boat and all summer we water ski, kneeboard and tube.  We also have a pool where I swim all day, even at night too.  I always wear sunscreen 30+ because I have light skin and red hair, putting me at risk for skin cancer.  I was always told that the sun could cause skin cancer because of harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.  But, until now, I never truly understood exactly what that meant.

     I remember my Mom always checking my skin for freckles or spots called moles.  My Mom has blonde hair, blue eyes and very light skin.  She has been having spots removed from her body for a long time, all due to the sun.  So I guess that’s why she always checks me even though it is very annoying.

     My mom noticed this spot on my back that she said seemed to be “changing”.  She told my Dad when I went to the doctors to have them measure it.  The doctor said it appeared to be fine but gave us the name of a Pediatric Dermatologist.  A Dermatologist is a doctor of the skin.  An appointment was made and off we went.

     I have to tell you, I was very nervous going to the Dermatologist.  I didn’t want someone to check my skin from head to toe the way my Mother does.  It was kind of embarrassing.  The doctor began at my scalp.  Did you know you could get skin cancer up there too?  She looked at my face, neck, ears, body, arms, legs even fingers and toes.  When she checked my spot on my back, she said, “my gut feeling says it’s fine, I am 99.9% sure it is nothing to worry about.”  “We can monitor it.”  But, my Mom wanted it gone and I am glad she did.  Although, at the time, I was not happy with her.

     They brought in a tray of all sorts of things including needles, which I hate the most!  The needles were used to numb the skin so they could cut out the spot and stitch the skin back together.  Once they give you the needle, you really don’t feel a thing.  They send the skin to another doctor who looks at the tissue under a microscope.  They are looking for typical (normal) cells, atypical (changing cells) or cancer.

     My Dad got the phone call on a Wednesday night a week and a half later.  The doctor said I was diagnosed with Melanoma In-situ, which means the cancer was on the epidermis, the upper layer of my skin.  She also said I had to go in for surgery to remove more tissue to make sure they got all the cancer.

     My surgery was scheduled for Good Friday at 8:30 in the morning.  The surgery was done by a Plastic Surgeon because of the large cuts and amount of tissue they have to take.  These doctors are trained in making the best scars.  Although, my Mom, Dad and I told him we didn’t care about how big or large the scar was because all we cared about was that the cancer was gone.

     This surgery was different because now I had five needles poking me in the back to numb the area. And it took longer.  But, it wasn’t too bad.  My Mom and Dad told me they cut a lot and deep.  They also said there were so many stitches they couldn’t count and that they would eventually dissolve.  They sent this tissue back to Boston where they could biopsy it.  A few days later, we got the phone call again.  This time the tissue was cancer free!

     Now I’m just waiting for the stitches to dissolve.  I also have to go to the doctors every three months, but that is OK compared to how it could have been.  If my Melanoma was not caught in time it could have spread to the rest of my body.  I might have had to get chemotherapy or radiation; instead I am cancer free.  My Mom pretty much saved my life!  My new saying is, “Make a positive out of a negative by teaching others”.

    

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Click here for current story written for and published by the Melanoma Foundation of New England

Sun Safety Tips

  1. When possible avoid outdoor activities during the hours between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  2. Always wear sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher.
  3. Always reapply sunscreen, especially after swimming or drying off with a towel.
  4. Wear a hat to protect areas such as neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp.
  5. Tightly woven fabric and long sleeves protect your skin from exposure to the sun.
  6. Protect your eyes from sun damage; wear sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection.
  7. Swimmers should remember to regularly reapply sunscreen.  Ultra violet rays reflect off the water making sun protection especially important.
  8. Some medications such as antibiotics can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which can make you burn.  In that case, avoid the sun.
  9. Children need extra protection from the sun.  Play in a shaded area when in the 10am – 4pm sun.  Or if in the sun, keep reapplying sunscreen.

*Source: American Cancer Society



3 Types of Skin Cancer


Basal Cell Carcinoma


Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of the 3 types of skin cancer, and the easiest to treat because it almost never spreads. Basal cell carcinoma is generally characterized by either a waxy bump that can appear on your face or neck, or a brown or flesh-colored mark that looks like a scar on your back or chest. In most cases of basal cell carcinoma, the damaged tissue is removed by either freezing or cutting out the tissue. It is generally done right in the doctor’s office with a local anesthesia, and involves minimal discomfort.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma


This is the second most common of the 3 types of skin cancers, and is often as easy to treat as basal cell carcinomas. However, squamous cell skin cancer carcinoma is slightly more likely to spread to other areas, usually to the surrounding tissue of the skin. The squamous cell skin cancer is characterized by a red nodule that can appear on your face, neck, hands or arms. This bump is generally firm to the touch, and can also show up on your lips or ears. It can also look like a scaly, crusty lesion that will appear on the same areas.


Melanoma


Melanoma is the least common of the types of skin cancer, but it can become the most serious if left untreated. Of the 3 types of skin cancers, this is the one that can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes and other organs. When it spreads (metastasizes) in this manner, it becomes significantly more difficult to treat. That is why early detection of melanoma is so important, and why you should get into your doctor every year for regular skin cancer screenings.

Understanding what the 3 types of skin cancer look like is the first step in keeping your skin safe and healthy. If you have any concerns about your skin, you should make an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation.

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REMEMBER , SKIN CANCER CAN HAPPEN AT ANY AGE.  I WAS ONLY 11 WHEN IT HAPPENED TO ME!


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Excisional surgery scar.

FACT :  1 person every 60 minutes dies of Melanoma skin cancer.

FACT :  Skin cancer is now one of the most common cancers of teens and young adults ages of 15- 29.
  
FACT :   Yes, you can DIE from skin cancer!

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This is me now at age 17.  I never thought about skin cancer until it happened to me.  This scar is my daily reminder, but I am one of the lucky ones because if my Melanoma was not caught in time, the cancer would have spread. PLEASE, don't let this happen to you!  BE SUN SAFE...


*SKIN CANCER IS PREVENTABLE.

"YOUR SKIN IS IN" SOURCE: THE MELANOMA FOUNDATION OF NEW ENGLAND

"LIMIT THE SUN NOT THE FUN." SOURCE: THE SHADE FOUNDATION

''Making a positive out of a negative by teaching others."                         Source: Rachel A. D'Ambrosio