Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Candidates and the Tanning Ban Bill

Back in June, I was fortunate enough to join a few others to talk with North Carolina state legislators about the tanning ban bill to be reintroduced next term.  Also known as the Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act, article a2 of section 2 reads, “The operator (tanning bed owner) shall not allow a person 13 years and younger less than 18 years of age to use tanning equipment without a written prescription from the person’s medical physician specifying the nature of the medical condition requiring the treatment, the number of visits, and the time of exposure for each visit.”

While I’d rather either do without the physicians’ prescription part, or require such to be administered by a licensed radiologist only, I find the amended statement very promising. After all, the original bill stated 13 years and younger and someone must have said, “whoa…let’s make it under 18.”  Kudos to this person!

Anyhow, during my rounds, Rob the Lobbyist introduced me to a gentleman who was supposedly my district representative.  The meeting went well and he even stated that “going to a tanning salon seems stupid anyhow.”  He was a definite vote to pass next year’s bill.  But there was one problem.  The gentleman was miles apart from my personal political views and there was no way I would have ever voted for him in the past.  I faced a dilemma…do I vote for a sure-fire vote against tanning, or do I compromise all my other political beliefs?

As the upcoming election approached, I decided to write my representative and his challenger.  Well, it turned out that Rob the Lobbyist was wrong.   The gentleman I spoke with is NOT my district representative after all.  Regardless, I decided to write to all four candidates up for office in my district…two running for State Representative and two running for State Senator.  Here’s what I wrote:   

Good evening,

The Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act, NC Senate Bill 471, will most likely be reintroduced in some form during the next term.  It states that persons less than 18 years of age would not be allowed to use tanning beds without permission from a physician.  What is your stance on this bill?  Do you oppose it, support it, or support with change?

Thank you in advance for your answer.

I tried to make it sound as neutral as I possibly could.

Of the candidates, two of them answered…one Rep candidate and one Senate candidate.  The Representative Candidate responded the very next day as follows:

Thanks for reaching out to contact me.  I am not familiar with the bill or topic you have asked about and before I could give you an opinion I would need to hear the pros and cons from both sides.  So to answer your question, I don’t have enough information to answer your question if I support or oppose at this time.

I respect his answer and I appreciate his quick answer.  And I promise you, he WILL receive some information from me soon.  In fact, I met him at the early voting site yesterday and he remembered our email exchange.  We talked only briefly (it was freezing outside) but he seemed very receptive to anything I could present.

The one Senate candidate responded a few days later as follows:

My apologies for the delayed reply; it has been a crazy week with the start of early voting.  I have done some initial research and have had some discussion on this topic.  It appears as though there is a link between increasing incidence of skin cancer and the use of tanning beds in the teen years.  As such, it is likely that I would be in favor of legislation that would prevent the use of tanning beds by persons under age 18.  With respect to more specifics of the legislation, I would need to have further discussions.  Is there any material you could share with me that would expand my knowledge further?  I would appreciate anything you would be willing to send.

Thanks so much for reaching out to me on this important issue.

Whoo hoo…perfect answer!

I’m happy to say that I share many of the same political values as both of these candidates…so they both got my vote.  I’m disappointed, however that I didn’t hear from the other two candidates.  I may not have voted for them anyway, but their silence strongly encouraged a vote for each of their opponents.

The point of this post is not to share my meager political outreach for this election…but to encourage yours.  You have only a week left to vote (or less if you’re voting early) but I encourage you to contact your candidates to get their take on the tanning issue in your state.  Many of these candidates have no opinion yet and your voice can make a huge difference.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Suburgatory and Tanning

I seem to have limited opportunity to watch television anymore, but one show I try to watch each week is “Modern Family.”  I think it’s hilarious and it offers a nice little 30 minute escape.  After the show I return to reality by cleaning up the dishes or doing the laundry or performing some other real-life task.  I usually leave the room with the TV still on with no intent of really watching it. 

The show that follows “Modern Family” is “Suburgatgory,” a show about a teen girl named Tessa and her dad who moved to a Stepford Wives type of suburban town called Chatswin after having lived in New York City.  It seems like a cute show but it just doesn’t fit my schedule except as background noise as I check the kids’ homework or clean up some cat puke off the carpet. (Yes, this is real life in the suburbs).

However, the show has caught my attention the last two weeks.  On the first episode of the season, Tessa (played by gorgeous-skinned ginger Jane Levy) returns back to Chatswin after spending the summer in NYC with her grandmother “while everyone was cultivating Stage 3 skin cancer at the Chatswin Country Club.” When this line was stated in the dialogue, the camera showed two of the series stars sun bathing poolside at the club while the housekeeper desperately tried to spray sun screen on their skin. 
Very subtle, but considering that many of the town’s residents are portrayed as self-serving and shallow folk, it was actually a very good commentary.  I hope those that watched it caught the real message…sunbathing is stupid and causes cancer!

The second episode was a Halloween show.  I didn’t catch a lot of it, but apparently there was a rumored witch in town.  The witch followed Tessa throughout the episode and in the end it was revealed that she was merely a nature-loving feminist with opinions opposite of one of the town’s main residents. 
The haggard-looking lady said, “I’m just a 45 year old woman who hasn’t had any work done.”  Tessa questioned, “Only 45, eh?” to which the witch replied, “Yeah, I did a lot of sun.  I didn’t know how damaging it was back then.”

Having not watched this show during its freshman year, I’m not sure whether such anti-tanning comments are common or even intentional, but I have to applaud the writers.  Such subtle, almost subliminal jokes and statements like this are just as effective against tanning as a 30-minute PSA.  If this show includes a little dig against tanning even every other episode, fans of the show will start to think the same way.  Imagine if other shows and popular movies would work in similar messages!

Thank you “Suburgatory” and keep making those digs at tanning.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hillary Quinn Kind - A Simple Gift

I was going to write a few thoughts about melanoma and politics, but the news of Hillary Quinn Kind’s passing has really affected me.  There’s no way I can write about anything else.

For those of you who may not know, Hillary Quinn Kind was the melanoma warrior featured in the Stand Up 2 Cancer special that was broadcast not long ago.  On the night it aired, I took my kids to their grandparents’ house for a sleep over.  Even though I was recording the show on my DVD as I drove, I was a little disappointed at not watching it live.  When we arrived at my in-laws, the TV was on.  I (rudely) asked if I could just switch the channel briefly and check into the broadcast.  As I did, the melanoma segment started.

If you didn’t catch it before, here’s Hillary’s story.


I was struck by this girl’s beauty, strength and courage in the face of obvious adversity.  The discussion she had with her doctor was real and heart breaking.  It was courageous to hear her say “maybe if it’s not me surviving, maybe they will find a cure and I will have helped them.”  But what touched me emotionally the most was to watch her sky-dive (thus knocking off an item off her bucket list) to the haunting tune of “Simple Gifts.”  (The tune has a special place in my heart already).  I still barely hold back the tears when I watch it.

The fight against melanoma…the “just cut it out skin cancer”…had a face for the world to see.  It had a representative story.  And in the middle of my in-laws’ family room, I could hear the entire melanoma community cheering.

Like so many others, I “friended” Hillary on Facebook…and she was kind enough to accept.  We never corresponded, but I watched her posted life as she continued to fight.  She never really discussed her illness as I recall, so it came as an absolute shock when I read that she passed away last night.

My first thought…dammit.  My second thought…was a smile.  Strange, I know.  It was partly due to knowing she was no longer in pain, and partly knowing that we have another strong-willed angel looking over us.  I hope that other people, besides the melanoma community recall her touching story from the broadcast…and I hope they get word of Hillary’s passing so that they can get the full emotional message of melanoma’s wrath.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Rest in Peace Hillary Quinn Kind.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Photos from the Amanda-Corey Memorial Walk

In a departure from my usual blogging style, I thought I'd just share some photos of yesterday's Amanda-Corey Memorial Walk for MRF.

Yep, this is the place!

The coffee table was VERY popular on this chilly morning!
Registration table was a busy place. 

The Raffle, Silent Auction, and Live Auction were popular and a big hit

Best t-shirt of the day!  Pretty in Pink, but Better in Black!
Plenty of awareness reminders around

GamePatrol donated their services for audio and video (and a cool peak into their gaming trailer)

Chap (Corey's Dad) addresses the crowd before the walk (he has a natural "anouncer's voice)
Don (Amanda's Dad) addresses the crowd and shares his stories.
A good crowd of well over 100 listens and awaits the walk
And off we go!
Apex, NC...a great place for such a walk
The walk crowd extends a couple of blocks
A couple of the walkers (one dressed for Halloween)
Back at the church, the "Touched by Melanoma" gift basket is the last item to raffle
Barb wins the basket!  (and the decorated shoes are just her size!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Humbled by Melanoma Nation

It is truly humbling how the melanoma community comes together.

Earlier today, I was mentally composing my thoughts about how two events of the last week brought together the melanoma community in different ways.  And now, within the last few minutes, a third amazing demonstration of the love of melanoma nation has taken place.  But let me talk about the first two first.

About a month ago, I asked folks if they’d be willing to donate to a raffle/auction to be held at the upcoming MRF walk in Apex, NC.  Honestly, I figured I might receive a couple items in addition to my BITNP shirt and coffee mug that might fit nicely in a little basket.  What I’ve received is a kitchen table full of boxes of items received from across the country and Canada!  Scarves, calendars, bracelets, stationery, a CD…all sent from people touched in different ways by melanoma.  In fact, far too many items to fit in one basket, so I’ll work with the event organizers to best utilize the items for maximum fund-raising.  Thanks to every person!  The response was truly touching.

The second gathering of melanoma nation took place as our own Chelsea Price walked the red carpet and spoke at the Skin Cancer Foundation’s big gala in NYC last night.  (I almost titled this blog, “Another Blog About Chelsea’s Big Night…J ).  I personally ate dinner with my eyes glued to my tablet as I waited for updated photos from the Skin Cancer Foundation’s (SCF) website and tweets.  The funniest moment was when they posted Brooke Shields’ photo on the red carpet, and the Rev. Carol chimed in, “That’s nice, but show us a photo of Chelsea Price!”  The SCF obliged moments later with a stunningly beautiful photo of Miss Price. 
I have a feeling others felt the same pride as I…and also noticed that her expression seemed to say, “WOW!” and “WTF is happening?” at the same time.  What an amazing night for Chelsea…and what an amazing night for us all.  If nothing else, SCF felt the presence and importance of the online community.

Thirdly, as I logged on tonight, I received a private message to my BITNP page.  It was from a gentleman named Justin Eakes that read as follows:

Hello, I know this is last minute but I am having a memorial service Sat. 13th, for my wife who just lost a 2 ½ year battle with melanoma Oct. 4th.  I was wondering if you knew of a place that I could either overnight or buy in Kansas City, small black ribbons that we could hand out to everyone who is coming to the service.  If you know of anything like that or similar, that would be great.  If not that is ok too.

Thanks for any help, and sorry for being last minute the thought just came to us today.

Justin Eakes.

Within 15 minutes, over 20 people responded with prayers, thoughts, and even offers to make him ribbons and overnight them!  I sit here in amazement to the magic this group can perform.

We all told Chelsea how proud we were of her…and I’m here to say that I am SO proud of each and every person in melanoma nation.  Melanoma doesn’t stand a chance against a love-force such as ours.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Plea for Help to the Breast Cancer Community

Black and Pink...Fighting Cancer Together!
Dear Breast Cancer Awareness Supporters….

We in the Melanoma Awareness Community need your help.  You may have heard that some of us have “Pink Envy.”  In reality, I believe we have Pink Inspiration (read this post to see what I mean).  In truth, we’re as interested in the awareness of ALL cancers as much as you are.  But as it turns out, those that wear the Pink seem to get more press and attention…and that’s why we need your help.

A friend of mine attended a fund-raising 5K run last month in honor of Breast Cancer Research and Awareness.  One of the door prizes was a free month of appointments at a local tanning salon.  More recently, tanning salons have been offering discounted tanning sessions for every person that wears pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.  A pink ribbon was even spotted on a bottle of tanning lotion.

In case you didn’t know, tanning is a direct contributor to melanoma…the deadliest form of skin cancer.  It’s the second leading cancer of women under 39, behind breast cancer.  It’s the MOST COMMON form of cancer in young adults age 25 to 29.  Some (much) of this is attributed to UV ray exposure…the same UV rays in tanning booths and the sun.

Everything is covered in pink in October.  It’s a sign of your incredible awareness campaign.  We are envious, but we are inspired.  However, the placement of pink ribbons upon tanning products is a step too far.  This would be the same as placing your pink endorsement upon cigarettes.  Tanning booths and cigarettes are both recognized carcinogens…cancer-causing agents. 

I know that you, the typical member of the breast cancer community would not endorse the placement of pink ribbons on anything associated with cancer.  So I ask you to speak out.  Contact your local organization and encourage them to withdraw any support to the placement of pink ribbons on anything tanning related.  Tell those that display your ribbon as a means to promote their tanning business that you’re offended.

We all stand up together in the fight against cancer.  All cancer.  Please help us in the fight against melanoma by withdrawing any association with skin cancer-causing activities.

Thank you…