Prevention is Beautiful

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Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25-30. Shelby Moneer, Director of Education at the Melanoma Research Foundation, shares how her perception of beauty has evolved since becoming a parent.


Shelby and daughter, Ava.

In 2014, I wrote a blog about the changes I’d experienced in my first two years of being a mother. Not so much about motherhood itself, but about protective instincts and how “beauty” seems to take on a different meaning. These experiences have helped to shape and strengthen my work with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) and the melanoma community we serve. In the eight years since joining the MRF and working within this community, so much has changed…or has it?

Well, let’s take a look. Melanoma continues to be diagnosed at alarming rates and impacts people of every age, race and gender. It is the leading cause of cancer death in women aged 25-30. That’s right – more young women are lost to melanoma than any other cancer. That’s a statistic I take note of every day. Maybe it’s because I’m only a few (okay, a handful) of years removed from that age group, or maybe it’s because of my 5-year-old. I cringe when I see young women with unnaturally tanned skin or bright red sunburns next to the lines of natural skin where a bathing suit once was.

My daughter is now 5 – but sometimes acts like she’s 25 – and I can’t help but wonder, like all parents, if I’m doing this parenting thing right. We talk about bike helmets, seat belts, being a nice friend. We also talk about how everyone is different. She reminds me of this when she tells me that she doesn’t like something. “It’s okay, mom, because everyone is different. You like it, but I don’t.” See that comment above about being 25?

So far, I know that my husband and I have raised a young girl with a great deal of confidence, a strong personality, a good sense of humor and a love of sunscreen (or at least sunscreen application). I don’t know yet if she truly understands how dangerous too much sun can be. I haven’t talked to her about what exactly UV radiation is and how it can hurt us. She doesn’t know what cancer is. Or that the sun can cause it. I imagine we’ll tackle those topics soon, but not yet.

If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 years of parenting, it’s that sometimes I sound like a broken record. I repeat my message so my daughter hears me, listens to me, and understands me. Similarly, in melanoma prevention and early detection, I’ve learned that the message must be repeated and it must be communicated in a way that makes consumers want to engage, connect and take action. That’s why the MRF is excited to partner with Outcome Health to bring much needed attention to melanoma right at the point of care. Informed and empowered patients are the most important member of their health care team and relationships like this are critical to spreading awareness and preventative measures against the deadliest form of skin cancer.

To read Shelby’s original blog post, click here.

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Shelby Moneer is the Director of Education at the Melanoma Research Foundation and  is responsible for all development, implementation and assessment of the education program. Shelby was elected as the Co-Chair to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention for 2017-2020. She and her husband have two young children and live in St. Louis, MO. They enjoy playing and watching sports, spending time outdoors and being surrounded with friends and family.

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma. The MRF is a dedicated advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. More information is available at www.melanoma.org.