More than five million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The John Wayne Cancer Foundation is working to educate young people on how to prevent it with its Block the Blaze program.
Block the Blaze, which has the mission of eradicating skin cancer for future generations through education, prevention and awareness, delivered 222 in-person presentations this summer, educating almost 35,000 kids in just 10 weeks. Since its inception in 2014, Block the Blaze has educated children and teens in 16 states, reaching more than 579,000 youth.
DocWire News spoke with Stacy Mulder, Vice President of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, to learn more about this extraordinary program.
DocWire News: How many people in the U.S. get skin cancer each year? What are the risk factors?
So skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. One in five in the United States will get skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. Depending on the state where you live, the statistics could be one in three people would get skin cancer. California, Texas, Florida have higher risks and risk factors are being exposed to too much sun, getting a sunburn, multiple sunburns, any red, peeling sunburns, blistering sunburns can really increase your chances of developing skin cancer. It’s really important to wear your sunscreen. We want you to be outside and we want you to be getting that great vitamin D from the sun, but we also want you to do it during the safest hours and to protect your skin with a physical sunscreen.
Is sun exposure equally dangerous during the winter?
Absolutely, especially for those who love to ski. When you’re in the mountains, if you’re a high elevation, you’re that much closer to the sun, your risk factors are the same so it’s still important in the wintertime to wear that great physical sunscreen with no chemicals in it and really be cautious of that sunburn that you’re going to get on your face, your ears, the back of your neck, even top of your head and your scalp.
Talk to us about John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s Block the Blaze program.
Absolutely. I love our Block the Blaze Program. It’s a program where we educate kids about being safe in the sun, and it’s got two components. During the school year we’re in the classroom, we’re presenting to kids with a 45 minute presentation that talks about the risk factors of too much exposure to the sun, getting that sunburn right? Again, we want kids outside. We just want them to be outside during the lower risk hours, like in the morning or the late afternoon, or if they’re going to be out in the peak of the day, we want to make sure that they follow those five sun safe tips. We want them to apply that sunscreen and we want them to apply it before they go outside in a generous amount of that sunscreen. We want them to wear a hat, protect their head, their ears, their face. Sunglasses are important because you can get melanoma in your eyes. You want to wear sunglasses if you’ve got them. Then to wear a protective clothing. If you’re in the peak of the day, sun’s up here or at an angle like this, between 10:00 and 4:00, we want to make sure you wear protective clothing as well, so long sleeves, long pants, really protect that skin. Then in the peak of the day, seek shade as well. Those are some sun safe tips that kids can follow to really help protect themselves when they’re outside.
What are some accomplishments that the program has achieved, and what are the goals of the program moving forward?
Well, our goals for our program is to really prevent skin cancer. We know that largely skin cancer is preventable, and the more we do education in the classroom, and also during summer programs where we’re on the beach with the kids or we’re in a camp program, teaching them about the safety is really important so that they know for their life how they can protect themselves. Our goals are to reach as many kids as possible. So far, we have educated over 580,000 kids being our summer program and our school time program.
Any closing thoughts?
Well, we’re just really excited about this program. We would love for people to reach out to us and go to johnlane.org to find out more about our organization. They can go there and see to Block the Blaze program and everything we’re doing there. At the John Lane Cancer Foundation, our mission is to lead the fight against cancer with courage, strength, and grit, so check us out on johnlane.org. Come to one of our events, make a donation to help us continue to increase our Block the Blaze program and to fight cancer in the other ways that we do that through cancer research, education of doctors, awareness and support of those who are battling cancer.