My name is Lorene Whitecross and our elementary school recently won a Shade Structure from the Shade Foundation and Neutrogena's Sunproof your Community contest.
The Shade Foundation staff is professional and very focused on making every dollar count. Using FACEBOOK for their contest, helped our community to become more aware about why we needed Shade on our playgrounds. The cumulative effects of Sun exposure starts in childhood. Our new Shade structure will help children at our school for many years to come to be more aware about Sun Safety and play safe in the sun!
To Whom It May Concern:
It was the 70s and I was on the beach every summer with my family building sand castles and jumping in and out of the waves. Despite my fair skin, my parents didn’t have much concern over the sun exposure and the shades of pink and red I would turn each July and August. Hawaiian Tropic 4 SPF oil in a brown bottle was sometimes put on to start the all day beach adventure, but never considered for soccer fields or playgrounds. Flash forward to the 80s, when I would go to great lengths to “get color” each summer. Lying out in the backyard as a teen with a bottle of baby oil – not sunscreen – to help enhance the process. The layers of skin I shed through those years is overwhelming to think about. Overwhelming, when the doctor first said to me in 1998 that I had malignant melanoma.
I was a new mom and had a 2 year old to chase as well. I found out that I needed some reconstructive work on my wrist from an old sport injury. I never thought the pre-op physical could save my life. The internist made me promise to see a dermatologist as soon as I recovered from the surgery. With a 4 month old and toddler at home, the thought of adding another thing to the list was frustrating, but the doctor made it sound serious. She was certainly right. It was melanoma. I poured through the internet to find information. I felt helpless and scared. Over the years, they continue to remove skin tags of concern. More melanoma was found in 2001 and this time it was deeper and lymph nodes needed removing. My life since 1998 has been about excisions and stitches and most of all SUNSCREEN.
To think that my parents and I were so uneducated on the dangers of the sun is uncanny. To think that this cancer can be reduced or prevented with such an education is unbelievable. What the SHADE Foundation is doing to help people not have to travel my frightening road is incredible. Helping youth see the dangers of the sun and tanning beds, helping diagnosed families have a place to turn for support, these services are invaluable.
The organization makes differences on playgrounds by providing shaded areas for kids to play, they encourage activities to keep children out of the sun during its most harmful times, they educate about early detection and treatments. It is exactly the type of resource I wish I had found during my darkest time. I wish it been around to teach me in school and teach my parents. SHADE does an outstanding job making a difference and saving lives. I hope they continue to have the resources to provide such services to us all. Thank you for considering the outstanding work they are able to do.
Heidi Johnson, survivor