Skin Cancer Prevention for Young Adults

Mandy Matney is a survivor of skin cancer, although she is only 26-years-old.  This powerful piece is her attempt to speak to other young girls who think they need “that healthy glow” to be considered beautiful.  Since the number of young women getting skin cancer has increased eight-fold since the 1970s, Mandy seeks to change the conversation with hard facts to begin to change the conversation.  She hopes her story will warn others before it is too late – before gallons of sunscreen no longer help.  Skin cancer is not an old person’s disease.  Mandy speaks of her friend Kelly, who lost her battle with melanoma at just 25.  It is not a one-shot deal.

You are more susceptible to repeat bouts in addition to other cancers.  It is 100% preventable with proper sun safety habits.  Yet tanning is an individual choice, one for which you must pay a heavy price.  Even though the FDA’s proposed ban on tanning bed use for minors has not yet been signed into law, it is our responsibility to take proactive action to change the conversation with young teens and actively discuss the dangers of tanning.

Our Students Against Melanoma clubs have partnered with local salons to offer high school students free organic spray tans before prom as an alternative to UV tanning beds.  This initiative is a great way for passionate students to encourage their peers to bin the beds and seek out safe alternatives to unsafe tanning.  While we offer alternatives and begin to change the conversation, we should remember that it is most important to love the skin you’re in.

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“For two weeks now, I’ve worn a two-inch bandage across my forehead to cover the gash where skin cancer had put down its ugly roots… I’m 26… I was a stupid teenager who tanned a lot… I got skin cancer because I didn’t think being a fair-skinned redhead was good enough. I wasn’t confident in my natural skin, so I crawled into a tanning bed to cook my pale skin brown. I got skin cancer because I listened to the messages from advertising and women’s magazines that told me I needed “that healthy glow” to be considered beautiful. I got skin cancer because in high school all the “popular” girls hit the tanning beds hard before every dance — three times each school year in Kansas. And in college, most of the girls in my sorority tanned regularly, especially before date parties — basically all of the time… Teenagers are too young to process risks and rewards. And young girls will always be helplessly vulnerable to things that make them feel beautiful, even if they’re dangerous. I certainly was. And that will never change. But we can change the conversation. We don’t have to live in total fear of the sun. But we need to see the light.

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Source:  The Miami Herald

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