A woman with melanoma, a form of skin cancer, handed out sun hats to primary school children yesterday as part of her campaign to encourage them to be sun smart.

Anne O’Leary, 44, from Ballinlough in Cork, who was forced on medical grounds to retire from teaching last year, also recorded a music video with them to increase awareness of the dangers of exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun.

“The sun is a good thing but UV rays are what can cause damage, and what we need to be aware of,” she said.

She hopes the 2016 Sunny Days Melanoma Cancer Awareness campaign will teach children to love and respect their own skin; teach them never to burn; and give them tips and advice on how to make healthy sun protection choices.

Ms O’Leary, who was diagnosed with malignant melanoma almost four years ago, launched a webpage last summer to raise awareness of melanoma, and to change Irish people’s attitudes to sun protection.

She piloted the sun hat campaign in five schools last year where pupils agreed to wear sun hats in their school yards during September — the UV index is at its highest from April through September. Sunscreen was delivered to the schools and a dermatologist delivered educational talks.

Cork schools are involved in this year’s campaign. They are: Star of the Sea NS in Passage West; Ballinora NS; Bunscoil Chríost Rí in Turner’s Cross; Our Lady of Lourdes in Ballinlough, Cork; Scoil Phadraig Naofa in Rochestown; and Scoil Naomh Eltin in Kinsale.

Incidents of malignant melanoma are rising at an alarming rate. On average, two people get a new diagnosis in Ireland every day.

There has been a 175% increase in melanoma cases among Irish women since 1995, with a 327% increase in melanoma cases among men in the same time.

  • sunnydaysmelanomacancerawareness.ie


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