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Virginia Mason Reaches Out to Community with Free Skin Cancer Screenings

Ballard resident Jolie Bergman says she spent too much time under the South Dakota sun as a child, and with a family history of skin cancer, she decided to take advantage of Virginia Mason's free skin cancer screening event.

“I had more burns as a child than I could count, thanks to the South Dakota sun,” says Jolie Berman, now a 30-year-old living in Ballard. Jolie is one of 94 people who attended Virginia Mason’s annual skin cancer screening event May 21. The free, walk-in event was part of an American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) national campaign to encourage early detection and prevention of skin cancer.

Jolie says she is more than a little concerned about the effects her childhood sunburns may have had on her skin, but when she saw VM’s free skin cancer screening event on the morning news, it wasn’t just sunburn that convinced her to get screened.

“My family has a history of skin cancer. My brother had it on his nose and my dad had it on his ear.” Jolie was relieved when the screening revealed nothing suspicious, but says she’ll be back next year for another screening.

Joel Lohrmeyer of Seattle had a similar reason for coming to the event. “My wife had just seen something on TV about skin cancer when she heard (this event) advertised on the radio,” says Joel. “I was a lifeguard throughout high school and although I didn’t have any moles that I was particularly concerned about, I’d never been checked, so I thought this was a good opportunity.” A recent college graduate, Joel only has catastrophic health insurance and says he couldn’t have afforded a regular doctor visit.

“If we can save even one person from skin cancer, it’s worth it. That’s why we feel it’s important to reach out to the community and give them the gift of early detection,” says Alison Young, MD, VM Dermatologist.

Joel Lohrmeyer's catastrophic-only insurance wouldn't cover a trip to the dermatologist, so he took advantage of Virginia Mason's free skin cancer screening event.

Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. A survey commissioned by the AAD showed less than one-third of Americans currently examine their skin for signs of melanoma and more than half don’t know what those signs are. VM’s dermatologists hope to change this through their annual free skin cancer screening event for the general public.

For more information on skin cancer risk factors, detection and prevention, visit the Melanoma Program online.

Free skin cancer screening is one of many community benefits offered by Virginia Mason.






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