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"A Shocking Diagnosis" by Jerry Penacoli, Host of EXTRA

It was just a tiny brown freckle on my inner right thigh. Then, practically overnight, it became black and slightly raised. Had it been on my back or another less visible part of my body, I never would have known it was there. I had it removed last September, the doctor optimistically saying, “It looks like nothing.” But it was something: the biopsy came back positive for melanoma, stage III.

When I heard that word, “cancer,” first I cried, then I became paralyzed with fear, then I sprang into action. I talked to other melanoma survivors in Los Angeles about surgeons and oncologists, and became a sponge in order to absorb as much information from credible sources as possible about this form of skin cancer.

I was in surgery four days after my diagnosis. Two surgeries were performed: one to remove the affected area of my thigh, and another to remove 22 lymph nodes nearby because a biopsy of the nodes showed evidence that the melanoma had spread (metastasized) there. A PET CT scan also separately detected possible thyroid cancer, and after a needle biopsy, I had to have my entire thyroid removed.

Right now, I am cancer-free. Vigilance is the key. My skin will be checked visually and my body PET-scanned every few months. I refuse to have a recurrence. It is not an option with me, so, in addition to proper medical care, I have improved my nutrition, not to mention my sleep and exercise regimens.

After four months’ medical leave, I decided to go public with this personal story on my show “Extra.” I felt it was my responsibility. I was touched by the number of people who reached out to me with their own stories of hope and survival. Every one of them inspired me to keep awareness of this disease in the forefront. This is why I’m telling my story here.

The Skin Cancer Foundation is a tremendous wealth of resources and information about melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. I want anyone who will listen to heed these words:

Please get your skin checked by a dermatologist who knows skin cancer, and not just the head and torso. Have a full-body skin exam — a complete ‘naked’ check, if you will, by a medical expert.

I should have had that kind of check-up every year, and didn’t. Please, do it. It could save your life.




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7 Golden Rules of Sun Protection

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know to apply sunscreen. There's lifesaving reason to: About 3.5 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. "The incidence of skin cancer, including melanoma—the deadliest kind—is going up, and wearing sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent it," says Ronald Moy, MD, a dermatologist and spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. Stick with these smart tips—and check out our product picks—to make sure you're as protected as you can possibly be.

7 Golden Rules of Sun Protection

Select a Sunscreen You Love

Finding your sunscreen soul mate is the key motivating factor for using it regularly, experts agree. "If you think your sunscreen is pasty, thick or smelly, you have the wrong kind," says Jeffrey Dover, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Yale University. "It may make you less likely to put it on, or to reapply when you do." Happily, there are plenty of lightweight, sheer formulas, like Vichy Capital Soleil Foaming lotion SPF 50

Remember, SPF 30 Is the New 15

As a general rule, SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. Doctors now typically recommend at least SPF 30—at least being the key words. If you have a family history of skin cancer or are vacationing in a tropical spot (where the sun is especially intense), go for 50 or even 70. Just keep in mind: No sunscreen provides 100 percent protection. So to be as safe as possible, you still need to reapply every two hours and after a swim, even if you used the water-resistant kind, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Try Neutrogena Beach Defense sunscreen spray broad-spectrum SPF 30 ($11; at mass retailers). FYI, sunscreen becomes less effective about three years after you open the container.

Check Labels for the Term 'Broad-Spectrum'

It means the sunscreen provides protection against both UVA (wrinkle- and cancer-causing) and UVB (burning) rays. Problem is, that labeling rule only went into effect in December and stores still sell inventory made prior to it, notes Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, N.J. So if you're shopping and there's no broad-spectrum mention, check the ingredients for zinc or avobenzone, the only two that provide top-notch UVA coverage, he says. Coola Mineral Sport broad-spectrum SPF 35 Citrus Mimosa.

Layer It On

Think you apply enough? Almost no one does. "Several big studies show that most people rub in only about a fourth of what's needed to reach the labeled SPF—it's faster and easier to put on just a bit," notes Dr. Dover. Instead of that old advice to use a shot glass--size dose, all our experts recommend applying two coats. Squeeze a line of lotion down your arms and legs and rub in, then do it again. Ditto for spray formulas: Hold the nozzle close to your skin and spritz, moving slowly up and down until you see a sheen, then go back over the area. For your face, apply a pea-size drop to each cheek, your forehead and your chin, then smear in. Repeat!

Don't Forget Your Nose

It's the No. 1 sunburn spot, dermatologists say. "People apply sunscreen to their face, but either skip or speed over their nose—especially if they wear glasses, because they don't want to take them off," Dr. Wang says. Adds Dr. Moy, "80 percent of the skin cancers I remove are on the nose." Other commonly missed areas include the feet, hair part, ears and chest, as well as the backs of hands and legs.

Get Antioxidant Insurance

Since rays can still get through sunscreen, companies are now including antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and green tea to help mitigate damage. If you don't want to bother applying a serum that contains them beneath your moisturizer or sunscreen

Realize That Sunscreen Is Only One Part of a Sun-Smart Plan

"The hierarchy of sun protection should be avoidance first, then seek shade and wear a wide-brim hat and protective clothing, then use sunscreen—but most people have that sequence backward," Dr. Wang points out. Consider hitting the beach or pool in the morning instead of midday (when sun is strongest), and bring an umbrella and a tightly woven long-sleeve shirt.

 Know that it's never too late to start safe habits So you baked in the sun as a teen with little or no sunscreen. While regular tanning or getting several bad burns when you're young raises your risk of skin cancer, Dr. Moy says, what's critical is that you put on sunscreen these days: "Since skin's ability to repair itself decreases with age, your risk is even greater if you burn now." Good thing you're using it!


Source: This article originally appeared on, May 19, 2013. Author: Beth Janes


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California School Board Association encourages sun safety

The California School Board Association has issued its sample policy and policy brief addressing sun safety.  Recognizing the increasing incidence of skin cancer, CSBA has created board policy BP5141.7 and a policy brief on Sun Safety in Schools.  The documents were designed to aid the governance teams with addressing sun safety in school districts.  Included in the brief are policy considerations including: Sun-protective clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, school environment, curriculum, and modification of activities based on UV index.


If your district is a CSBA member and subscribes to their Policy Update service then your district wouldve received the policy in CSBAs July updates and can access it on GAMUT online.  However, if your district is a non-subscriber to CSBAs Policy Update service, you can view the sample policy on the CSBA website at:  
The Policy Brief to accompany the sample policy is at:

Sun Safe Schools offers suggestions and tools for implementing policy changes developed to encompass varying areas of sun safety.


Source: CSBA Governance & Policy Services, Policy Briefs, July 2006

            California School Boards Association Governance and Policy Services News, July 2006.

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Maryland House Passes Bill to Encourage Sun Safety

Maryland's house passed a bill in March 2006 that requires county Health Services Coordinators to enforce and adhere to health policies and guidelines in schools. Included are the Maryland State School Health Guidelines for Protecting Students and Staff from Overexposure to the Sun.


The guidelines state that sunscreen is not a medication and schools are encouraged to allow students to use the sunscreen they bring to school.  Schools are also encouraged to perform sun safety assessments and create policies to address sun safety issues at school.  School nurses are encouraged to be proponents of sun safety at their schools.  


Read the bill here:

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Kentucky Institutes New Tanning Restrictions for Minors

On July 12th, Kentucky HB 151 will go into effect, requiring indoor tanning salons to get written parental permission for any tanner between the ages of 14 and 18. Anyone tanning under the age of 14 must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. Tanning salons will also be required to provide certain health and safety information to their customers.


Read more here.

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California Senate Considers New Sun Safety Amendment

Assemblywoman Nicole M. Parra (D-Hanford),  announced the passage of AB 2645, also known as Esmeraldas Law, from the Assembly Floor by a vote of 66-1 on May 23.

AB 2645, which relates to sun protection, would clarify that current statue allows students to wear hats, as protection from the sun, during physical education courses without a doctors note or parental permission.  The current law says that students are allowed to wear hats and are allowed to use sunscreen without a prescription. The new law would clarify that students can also use hats without a prescription.

The new bill would also allow school principals to determine the definition of "outdoors" for this kind of policy.

For more information about the bill, please visit

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AB 105 Passed

September 5, 2007, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 105 and on October 13, 2007 it was signed by the Govenor. 

AB 105 places stricter regulations on the use of tanning facilities in the State of California.  Among other things, AB 105 prohibits minors under the age of 14 from using a tanning facility, and requires parental consent from minors ages 14-18.  For a summary of the provisions of AB 105 click here.  To read the complete text of the bill visit the Official California Legislation website at



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