dear 16-year-old me: protecting our skin early

“Dear 16-year-old Me” is a public service announcement produced by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. At the young age of 29, David Cornfield was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. By 32, he lost his battle to this deadly disease, but not without a fight and a long legacy to spread the knowledge about melanoma.

The video depicts several individuals recounting what they would have told their 16-year-old selves had they been given the knowledge of proper sun protection. Many of the now adults would have told their younger selves to apply sunscreen each and every day, no matter how annoying it may be; that a tan is actually the result of damage to the skin; and that sun-related skin cancers can be completely avoided. Each person telling their story was either afflicted by skin cancer themselves, or lost someone close to them due to melanoma or other skin-cancer related complications. The goal of this tear-jerking video is to bring realism into what doctors are now referring to as a “lifestyle disease,” one which is preventable with proper knowledge.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

If after watching this video you wish to seek out a board-certified dermatologist, consider visiting the American Academy of Dermatology’s website or the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Both websites are filled with information about proper sun protection, how to perform monthly self-exams and how to detect a suspicious looking lesion.

Statistically, skin cancer is no longer an affliction of older generations. Dermatologists are actually seeing more and more 20-somethings in their offices with malignant melanoma. In fact, melanoma is the second most common cancer found in adolescents. With accessibility to tanning beds and celebrities endorsing their own tanning products, having a “healthy glow” is still mainstream. Promoting awareness with videos like “Dear 16-year-old Me” and changing our patients’ views of what a healthy glow looks like are steps we can take as skin health professionals towards building a healthier youth.


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