You might ask #WhyICare? I am 17 years old and I am worried about getting skin cancer. In 2015, after having a suspicious mole checked, my grandmother received her first melanoma diagnosis. She underwent surgery to remove all cancerous tissue and was considered cancer free; however, 2 years later, while visiting the emergency room for severe back pain, the doctors discovered she had numerous nodules on both lungs. She was diagnosed with stage 4 invasive melanoma skin cancer that had spread to her lungs. She died nine months later at 70 years old. After my grandmother passed away, I decided to have a mole on my neck checked by a dermatologist. Thankfully, it tested negative for melanoma, but because of my family history, I will remain vigilant in checking for changes to my skin while educating others to do the same. When I decided to compete for the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen title, I knew immediately that my platform would deal with skin cancer awareness and prevention. Through my platform, Save Our Skin: Raising Awareness for Skin Cancer Prevention, I am working to educate others on sun safety so they can prevent melanoma and to make sure people understand that skin checks can save their lives.
I have spoken to more than 500 children and teens about the importance of sun safety. I have also worked with civic organizations to raise money for sunscreen dispensers, sunscreen samples, and to provide information about skin cancer checks. I raised over $700 through a pasta party to donate five sunscreen dispensers with enough refills for the entire summer to swimming pools in my hometown and the Grenada Lake beach. I am working with skin cancer survivors to provide sunscreen dispensers at two youth ballfields, one in Magee, Mississippi, and the other in Tupelo, Mississippi. I partnered with a weekly newspaper to publish sun safety tips where I was able to share the importance of skin cancer prevention with more than 100,000 homes in Mississippi. I have used social media to bring awareness to skin cancer prevention by using comments, likes, and shares to give away two baskets of sun protectant items. I have distributed 300 sunscreen samples to children and teens. I worked with a local hair salon to create a video on how hair stylists can give clients a #HeadsUp by looking for suspicious spots on scalps. I was successful in working with the Governor of the State of Mississippi to declare May as Mississippi’s Melanoma Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.
Keep up the great work Presley!