Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dare to Dream

Last Friday was just a normal Friday ... or as normal as the Friday before Christmas could be ... until I received a notice from the FDA of a HUGE, earth-shattering announcement. They were proposing a ban against tanning bed use for all minors under 18 in the US! I had heard through the grapevine that this ban was coming, but I didn't know when. And I wasn't holding my breath because I'd been holding it for too many years already. Then suddenly, last Friday became AMAZING! The planets had aligned!!

It was almost 6 years ago that presentations were made at a FDA hearing on the issue of teens and tanning beds. One of my friends from the melanoma community gave this presentation that included Jaime's story. 

Her presentation was one of many that shared stories about how tanning beds had changed or destroyed young lives. The hearings seemed promising ... but then the waiting game began. If you know me, you know that I am not a patient person, so ...

In the meantime, my attention turned to state legislation when Texas introduced a bill to restrict children under 16 from using tanning beds. Even though it wasn't the under-18 bill that I was dreaming of (and many thought it was just a foolish pipe dream!), it was a step in the right direction. With help from Jaime's story, it passed, which was surprising for such a conservative state. (And eventually, a full under-18 tanning bed ban would pass as well!)

Others began to share my seemingly impossible dream of an under-18 ban in every state. I'm not sure I even really believed that it was possible ... but I was being pushed ahead by some energy and force that insisted I just keep going. (Thank you, Miss J!) Then along came AIM at Melanoma, working on an under 18 tan ban in California, and I was hooked! Although it was far from easy, it passed! Twelve other states would follow to pass under-18 tan ban laws, but for years many more tried and failed. I am proud, along with Jaime and many, many others, to have been part of most of these difficult battles, but my dream was that all 50 states would pass these laws to protect their children by keeping them out of tanning beds ... and there was a long way to go.

Then just as my energy was draining and my dream was dimming, last year the FDA renewed its focus on under-18 use of tanning beds. It announced a strong recommendation against the use of UV devices by all minors. Many of us thanked them, but also let them know that it just wasn't enough.

And that led to Friday's announcement. Now there will be a 90-day period to respond to their proposal, and assuming it will be adopted ... that will put it becoming official just about on the 9th anniversary of Jaime's death!

The stories of all the melanoma victims whose cancer was brought on by tanning bed use have been heard, including my Jaime's. The years of hard work by thousands of supporters for this teen tan ban are FINALLY bearing fruit. Many lives will be saved!! I am proud to have played a role in this, and my sincere thanks go out to everyone who contributed to making this happen, to those who dared to dream.

But wait ... we're not done yet with the indoor tanning industry! Visit and "like" our Facebook group Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds to keep updated regarding our continuing efforts. Now that we have seen the impossible become possible, there is no dream too big!!

Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

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