Monday, June 30, 2014

Wrong Message Ellen

In case you missed it, the Ellen DeGeneres Show has asked the public to “Send us your bad sunburn photos!”  This is the photo they used as an example:

As a colleague of mine would say, from 50,000 feet, this seems funny.  I would equate the humor to someone writing “Dork” on a sleeping frat brother’s forehead.  Sure, it’s sophomoric humor, but it can be funny.

But in all honesty, this isn’t funny.  You and I both know that there is nothing funny about a sunburn.  One bad sunburn can significantly increase one’s chance of being diagnosed with skin cancer or melanoma.  Repeated sun exposure is even worse.  Of the top seven cancers, incidents of melanoma are rising while all others are declining.  Most skin cancer and melanoma can be attributed to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds.  In short, sunburns are bad.  Very bad.

You might call me a hypocrite.  After all, I posted a blog a three years ago (almost to the day!) that made fun of “funny” sunburns.  Well, in all honesty, I was trying to showcase how improper sun screen application can result in sunburns.  Still, I used the words “every now and then I have to lighten things up” meaning that I thought the pictures in the blog were indeed funny.  In retrospect, they weren’t (although they still emphasize proper use of sunscreen). 

I do have a sense of humor.  Some would say I have a sick sense of humor that defies political correctness.  As I said before, from a distance, Ellen’s request seems funny…until you realize that some people may purposely subject themselves to “funny sunburns” so as to have their photo appear on TV.  This is what makes this so offensive to me.

If any sunburns are to be posted, let them be of sunburns that make attractive people look ridiculous. 

Make a statement that sunburns are not to be laughed at, but to be admonished with mutterings of “when will they ever learn?”  I would love to see a segment on Ellen start with such photos to cause the audience to laugh…and then show a picture such as one of these:

Imagine how the audience would grow silent.  Imagine how they would stop to think.  Imagine the message that could follow with important and substantial discussion about sun safety and melanoma.

Now THAT would put a smile on my face.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Teaching Hope

In 2012, a teacher of Healthy Living at Lufkin Road Middle School in Apex, NC was battling melanoma.  Marti Capaforte wanted to keep her illness private, but a few of her colleagues approached her with an idea about a school-wide cancer awareness event.  Her co-workers wore purple t-shirts with the word “Hope” on the front, and Capaforte’s favorite saying on the back: “Have a great day on purpose!”  Students began participating in activities which inspired cancer awareness.  Posters on the facts and dangers of tanning beds and tobacco use adorned the hallways. 

Toward the end of the year, the students enjoyed field day, one of Capaforte’s favorite student activities that the staff chose to bring back.  This became the first “Hope Games.” 

Melanoma eventually claimed Capaforte’s life, but her message and inspiration live on.  A memorial garden sits in the front lawn of Lufkin Road Middle school and each year, students plant more trees in her memory. 

Sara DeMarco was one of Capaforte's friends/colleagues that first formed the Hope games.  Herself a melanoma and cervical cancer survivor, DeMarco continues to teach cancer awareness to her students (including my own children).  Due to an unusual amount of inclement weather and lost instructional time in the winter of 2014, the Hope Games had to be cancelled this past year with the hope of it returning in 2015.  However, DeMarco organized one week this past semester in her Healthy Living class that was still devoted to cancer awareness, including breast cancer, lung cancer (where all students signed a no smoking pledge), leukemia and melanoma.  Each day, my kids came home with new information to share with me.  Yes, even on melanoma day, my daughter (clad in her “Black is the New Pink” t-shirt) was excited to tell me about slip-slop-slap! 

The students also had the opportunity to give back and donate to the American Cancer Society.  Total donations added up to $1,467.84.  I’m proud to report that my kids’ track/pod donated the most per kid with a track donation of $208.

The fact that Marti Capaforte was stricken with melanoma is tragic.  However, her story has inspired one middle school in North Carolina to teach its students cancer awareness (including sun safety) and the joy of giving to help others.  Thanks to Ms. DeMarco and the rest of the staff for teaching my children (and many others) a very important lesson for life.