Activists Focus on Skin Cancer
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Saturday, October 12, 2013 13:10
The Skin Cancer Awareness Program will kick off Friday with a week of activities demonstrating the permanent and long-term damage that can occur to skin at a young age.
“If we come away from this having impacted 1,000 students, and they all know that they need to care about their skin more, then that will be a big step,” co-founder Abby Greene (MSB ’14) said.
Courtney Mastrangelo (COL ‘14), a former writer for The Hoya, and Greene see their goal to spread awareness as a challenge because students often are not concerned about skin damage while they are young.
“It’s a cancer that I think that a lot of people take for granted because they bake themselves in the sun and they refuse to understand that they can buy a $3 bottle of sunscreen to protect themselves for the rest of their lives,” Mastrangelo said.
Mastrangelo and Greene founded the program because skin cancer affected them on a personal level.
“Both our mothers have been diagnosed and treated for skin cancer,” Greene said. “It is definitely something close to our hearts.”
Tina Alster, director of the Washington Institution of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, said that people often do not think that their skin is damaged if it is not visible. Alster is donating sunscreen, T-shirts and informational pamphlets to the program.
“Often the damage you get today you won’t see medically for at least 20 years,” Alster said.
She said that the new program will address people at a critical age for skin damage, who often fail to protect their skin.
“Every single person that comes to me about aging would not look old or spotted if they hadn’t damaged their skin in their teens and in college,” Alster said.
Will von Bernuth, co-founder of the sunscreen company Block Island Organics, will donate sunscreen samples to the initiative.
“I think it’s largely an education issue. It is something that is just not very well-known and the dangers of it are not very well accepted. To overcome that, I think it is a lot of education — of going out there and saying what happens to your skin as you age and how sunscreen can help prevent that,” von Bernuth said.
Skin Cancer Awareness Program events and activities will include tabling in Red Square, as well as participating in a fundraiser at Mason Inn on Oct. 17 and activities at a football game and men’s and women’s soccer games. The program will also have a Reveal Skin Scanner at some of its events to show the underlying damage the sun is doing to skin.
The awareness program is being sponsored by the Athletic Department, as many athletes spend large amounts of time outdoors.
“We athletes, and anyone who participates in an athletic type of event or any kind of outdoor exercise, have greater exposure to the sun and having more awareness, these days with skin cancer being so prevalent around the country, creating more heightened awareness for it is certainly something we can get behind,” Senior Director of Marketing for Georgetown Athletics Pete Kirschner said.