As the title says this blog is one man’s effort to make sense out of his journey fighting melanoma. I have enjoyed reading some of my fellow melanoma warriors’ blogs and thought it might be an interesting way to share what this journey has been like for me. If you find this interesting great, if not that’s great also. Selfishly this is more about me getting this out and moving on from being a cancer patient to being a cancer survivor.

Let’s clear up a few things. Yes, I know how to use spell check and no I don’t always use it. I majored in accounting, not english. I have always been a below average writer, which is why I find the therapeutic value of doing this surprising. I think for this blog to make any sense you pretty much have to go to the archive and start from the beginning which is titled “Life Is Good”

I am not a doctor or medial professional of any type. My blog is not endorsed by any medical professional or facility mentioned in it. Every decision I have made about my care was done after careful consultation with my medical team. Decisions I have made were right for me but should not in any instance be considered right for anybody else. I don't recommend taking medical advice from an accountant.


Key West

Key West
Sunset

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tanning Bed Use By Minors In Missouri



Missouri House of Representatives

Melanoma rates among our young people are increasing dramatically. Dermatologist will tell you that 15 years ago it was very unusual to see somebody in their mid 20’s with melanoma. Today it is unfortunately common. There is a substantial amount of research that points to increased tanning bed usage as a factor in this increase. People like me who have battled this disease see this as an opportunity to save families from this nightmare. I strongly support banning tanning beds for minors nationwide. Unfortunately getting anything done on the national level is unlikely so we have to take a grassroots approach to this effort. Later I will be posting some information for people who want to read more about this subject but not this evening. Instead I have a favor to ask. I figure there are three groups of people who read my blog. Fellow warriors, friends and family, and people who like a good train wreck. I don’t really care which group you fit in to I ask a couple of favors of you. 
There is a bit of activity in the Missouri House Of Representatives currently around the issue of tanning beds and their use by minors.  There have been three bills introduced this session.  I have tried to summarize them below. 
The first one (HB1283) was introduced by Rep. Jay Barnes who I believe is from the Jefferson City area.   His bill has been co-sponsored by Rep. Gary Cross from Lee’s Summit.  This bill is a ban by anybody under the age of 15 from using tanning beds.  I love that this bill is a ban but not crazy about the age or the fact that it doesn’t speak to anybody between the age of 15 and 18.   Here is a link to the bill. 
The second bill that has been introduced by Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst who is from one of the suburbs of St. Louis I believe.   His bill is a ban for anybody under 16 and requires parental consent between 15 and 18 years of age.  Again, I wish this was a ban for anybody under 18 but unfortunately it is not.  Here is a link to his bill. 
http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills121/biltxt/intro/HB1343I.htm

The third bill was introduced by Representative Gary Cross of Lee's Summit.  I have spoken to him several times over the last few months and he met me for breakfast one morning this winter.  He is also a cancer survivor and has a pretty good reason for introducing this bill.  We both agree that we need to take any opportunity to prevent anybody else from ever hearing that they have cancer.  His bill however is not a ban for under 18 but  a parental consent for anybody under 18 with no ban.  Here is a link to his bill.  I haven't spoken to him since this bill was introduced but I imagine he still feels that an under 18 ban has 0 chance of passing. 

http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills121/billpdf/intro/HB1475I.PDF
What I would like to ask from my fellow Missouri residents it that you reach out to these gentleman and let them know your thoughts on this issue and that a full ban for anybody under 18 should be our goal.  I don’t like the parental consent bills.  However a bill that bans under 16 and requires parental consent between 16 and 18 is better than nothing which is what Missouri currently has.  Remember that your average state Rep. knows about as much about melanoma as most of us did before getting to know this disease personally.  It is a teaching opportunity for us.   The second thing I would like to ask is for you to call or e-mail your own state rep and let them know how important this issue is to you.  So far what I am hearing is that nobody believes an under 18 ban has a chance to pass.  We have to make a statement that we can and will support any effort to ban tanning beds for minors.  We also need let them know we are watching this issue closely.  The Indoor Tanning Association is of course opposed to legislation like this.  It will take numbers and passion to get this done.  My hope is that if they hear from enough of us that someone will be willing to introduce an under 18 ban.  For my friends in the St. Louis area support from that side of the state in crucial.  Nothing gets done in Missouri without support from St. Louis.  Below is the contact information for the people who introduced or co-sponsored these bills.  Take a few minutes out of your day and drop them an e-mail or a quick phone call.   The need to hear from us. 

Representative Dwight Scharnhorst
Legislative Assistant:
Aaron Smith
Phone:
573-751-4392
E-Mail:
Dwight.Scharnhorst@house.mo.gov

Representative Jay Barnes
Legislative Assistant:
Amanda Littlefield
Phone:
573-751-2412
E-Mail:
Jay.Barnes@house.mo.gov

Representative Gary L. Cross
Legislative Assistant:
Jacqueline Geary
Phone:
573-751-1459
E-Mail:
Gary.Cross@house.mo.gov
Last but not least is a link to the legislator look up web site.  You enter your 9 digit zip code and it tells you who represents your district.  Perhaps you know already but to be honest I had to look mine up.