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Dear 16-year-old Me (Canada)

Young people are not usually aware of the problems they may have when they grow older but what you do when you're 16 may have a great impact on what you may many or just a few years later.

This is an awareness campaign to prevent skin cancer which has rapidly grown to be one of the most common cancer causes due to modern tanning fashion...  It is the second most common cancer in children and teenagers and one of the most common in young adults, and it can be deadly. But the good news is that you can still do something to prevent it. Watch this video and see how it goes.

Dear 16-year-old me. Dear 16-year-old me. Dear 16-year-old me. Please, don't get that perm, it's not as awesome as you think it's gonna be. You have to actually practise in order to learn to play guitar. Whisky? Tastes even worse on the way out. Dear 16-year-old me, there's going to be a new set of Star Wars movies. Don't watch them, they ruin everything.

Dear 16-year-old me, this is where they took the cancer out. It was something called melanoma. It's called malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma. Malignant? That's not a very friendly word. You'll be diagnosed when you're 28, 18, 36, 29, 22. It's a tumour that starts in your skin cells, the cells that give your hair and skin colour. It's not just skin cancer. Well, it is. Well, it is, but not just the cut-it-out-and-it-will-be-fine kind, unfortunately. It's the kind that you have to catch before it spreads. Because it spreads so fast, so fast, to places like your liver, your lungs, your brain. Yours will be a very rare kind, in your left eye, and that's when you find out that melanoma can show up on your tongue, the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. Your doctors will tell you you're lucky that you caught it early. Yours will tell you that you need aggressive treatment. I'll have to tell you it might take a year of chemotherapy and you'll need to do some of the injections yourself.

Dear 16-year-old me, you're doing ok, you're strong, but there are some things I want you to know. I wish I'd known that one bad sunburnt before you turn 18 doubles your chances of developing melanoma, that fair skin and red hair means that you are at higher risk of getting it, as if ginger people didn't have enough problems, that you're at higher risk if you've got more than 50 moles, and if you have a weakened  immune system or a family history of skin cancer, I want you to know the outlook is very good if we can catch it early, but you have less than a 10% chance of surviving more than 5 years if we don't.

Dear 16-year-old me, spend more time with family, they mean everything. If I had one piece of advice for you, don't start the tanning ++++, I know you want a healthy glow, but it's gonna double my chances of getting melanoma. Sunscreen. Yes, I agree, it's a huge pain in the ass, but so worth it. Please. Your skin's like an elephant, it never forgets.

Dear 16-year-old me, helping spread this message is how you honour Glenny's memory. At 16 she's already an incredible lifeguard, she loves the sun, and the beach, and tanning, but she just doesn't know. She'll be diagnosed when she's 22 and we'll lose her ++++ when she's just 26. I want you to know because it's melanoma that's gonna take the strongest man you know, your best friend and the love of your life.

Dear 16-year-old me, don't be afraid. This isn't about being afraid. I want you to be aware that melanoma is a young person's disease. It is the second most common cancer in children and teenagers and one of the most common in young adults, and it can be deadly. I want you to know you're not helpless. This is a cancer that shows itself right there on the outside of you. Start checking your skin. Please, check. Get to know your skin. Get to know your skin. Start checking your skin. If a new mole shows up, or if when you have, starts to change colour or size or shape or feels different. If something seems out of place, get your doctor to have a look as soon as possible. Know what to look for and get help, these are all signs your skin can be developing cancer. You brush your teeth everyday, maybe even floss. Ok, we both know you don't floss, but just once a month I want you to check. It takes 10 minutes. 10 minutes.

Dear 16-year-old me, I do realize you're not actually going to see this, but someone else will, and it'll all make a difference to them.

Dear someone else. Dear somebody else, if you're watching this, send it to a 16-year-old you care about. Send it to anyone who was once 16 or soon will be 16. Send this and check yourself. Educate yourself. You can download tools and information about melanoma here: [www.dcmf.ca]. Share this link. Twit this link. Post this to your Facebook.

PERM= A hairstyle that gets fixed through heat and lasts for a very long time, that's why it's called "permanent" (see picture).

AWESOME= Fantastic, great.

GONNA= (coll.) Going to.

RUIN= Spoil, damage, destroy.

MALIGNANT= (health) Threatening to life, deadly.

DIANOSED= If you are diagnosed an illness, the doctors find out and tell you that you have that illness, so you know what's happening.

TUMOUR= An abnormal swelling in your body.

THE CUT-IT-OUT-AND-IT-WILL-BE-FINE KIND= We can join two or more words together or even a complete sentence, like here, and transform it into one single adjective that goes before the noun as an ordinary adjective. So this cancer is not the kind of cancer that you can cut out (extract) and then it will be fine. More examples:
- This is my I'm-always-the best brother (= my brother always thinks that he's the best).
- She's the look-at-me-I'm-so-beautiful kind of girl.
- Peter was the get-out-of-my-way tough boy.


CATCH= If you catch a cancer, you discover it so you can start controlling it.

SPREAD= To grow or extend to other areas (nearby or distant); to multiply.

LIVER= An inner organ in your body (see picture).

LUNGS= The organs you use to breathe.

BRAIN= The organ inside your head that you use to think.

CHEMOTHERAPY= A treatment against cancer consisting of injecting some chemical substances inside your body to kill the cancerous cell (along with many other healthy ones). It is a very aggressive treatment.

INJECTIONS= An injection is the act of injecting medicine or drugs inside your body using a medical needle.

SUNBURNT= If you stay in the sun for too long your skin goes all red and feels like burning. That means you have a sunburnt.

FAIR SKIN= Pale skin, very white skin.

GINGER PEOPLE= (coll.) people with red hear.

MOLE= A black spot on your skin (see picture).

OUTLOOK= Expectation for the future.

TANNING= (adjective) related to the act of tanning. To sunbathe is to lie under the sun so that your skin gets darker. When your skin gets darker, you have a tan or you are tanned.

A HEALTHY GLOW= A nice healthy appearance.

SUNSCREEN= A cream you use on your skin to protect you against sun rays so you won't get sunburnt.

HUGE= Very big, enormous.

A PAIN IN THE ASS= (coll. a bit rude) A very uncomfortable or bothering thing.

TANNING= (noun, -ing form of the verb) In this case, it means the act of tanning (= to sunbathe).

TO BE AWARE= To know, to realize.

DISEASE= Illness, sickness.

DEADLY= Fatal, causing death, killing you.

HELPLESS= Without help, very vulnerable.

CHECKING YOUR SKIN= To examine your skin, to look carefully at it to see if anything is wrong.

IF SOMETHING SEEMS OUT OF PLACE= If something looks strange, unusual.

FLOSS= to clean the part in between your teeth using a dental floss (a thread usually covered with wax to make it slide easier to and fro).

TWIT= To twit something is to write it on Twitter (a kind of social sharing system like Facebook but limited to just short messages).

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