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About the Author


Mary Mills Barrow

My name is Mary Mills Barrow. I’m a wife and mother of three, a full-time writer and sun protection activist. I studied in the United States and in Australia and it was in Australia that I first became aware of the problems caused by unprotected exposure to the sun. (Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world.) When I returned to the U.S. with my entrepreneurial husband, I was horrified at the epidemic of preventable skin cancer here.

With my husband, I co-authored “Sun Protection For Life: Your Guide To A Lifetime Of Healthy & Beautiful Skin” (New Harbinger Publications). Although certainly not a best seller, the book provides the framework for skin cancer prevention and detection habits and introduced the acronym “SunAWARE” which was later endorsed by a number of not-for-profit organizations working in the field including the Dermatology Nurses Association, the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, and The Melanoma International Foundation. The book also won our first Gold Triangle award from the American Academy of Dermatology.

In addition to “Sun Protection for Life,” I’ve written two books aimed at children and teens which incorporate the SunAWARE acronym and will help educate young people about the importance of beginning good sun protection habits early in life. These books won the Gold Triangle Award from the American Academy of Dermatology this year.

In the meantime, my husband and I founded Coolibar, a sun protective clothing company. Although I am no longer active in the running of the company, I believe Coolibar offers the best sun protective clothing on the market today and I will occasionally discuss its products, although always with the caveat that I do have an interest in the company. In that spirit, I’ll mention that Coolibar was just awarded the Seal of Recognition for its clothing from the American Academy of Dermatology, the first sun protective clothing company to be so recognized.

Currently, I’m working with a variety of organizations, including the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation to develop classroom lessons for each of the five steps in the SunAware acronym.

The Author's web site

Best Boomer Towns Columns

Hey Baby Boomers, Check Your Skin!

If you are a baby boomer, you may have already experienced some form of skin cancer or know someone who has. If not, you may be thinking, what's the point? I've already fried my skin, so why worry about it now? It's never too late to protect your skin, and by doing so, you may still avoid getting a skin cancer.

Think of it this way. Over the years, you may have harmed your skin's ability to repair cell damage, and cells may be more vulnerable - meaning that the slight burn/glow you allow yourself to get because you're thinking it can't do any more harm, could be the very one that triggers a cancer. Therefore, now is the time you should be even more careful to use sun protection and give yourself routine body checks. If you take care of your skin now, further damage may be averted.

Remember too that skin cancer, when diagnosed early, is almost always curable. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor if you find a suspicious change to a mole, a new mole, or changes to skin. Baby boomers are the most likely age group to be diagnosed with skin cancer.

Here are four easy rules for baby boomers

  • Watch for any suspicious changes to your skin (learn how to perform body checks by going to the Melanoma International Foundation website)
  • Accept that damage has been done but further damage can be averted
  • Use the sun protection methods in SunAWARE to avoid adding to potential problems, and
  • Educate your children and grandchildren.

A national SunAWARE media campaign about skin cancers - including ads specifically targeted to baby boomers and older adults- could boost the use of prevention methods and could help lower mortality rates by providing information about detection.

Be SunAWARE and be Safe!


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