Healthy Hairdresser

Eyes on Cancer: Help Fight Melanoma

Lauren Salapatek | April 30, 2015 | 9:43 AM

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, which comes with four easy-to-remember instructions: Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap!

For hairdressers, Jeanne Braa Foster might add a fifth direction: gab. “If you see something, say something,” she urges. In 2014, Foster and her husband, Dr. Dean Foster, launched Eyes on Cancer, a nonprofit cancer awareness organization that teaches beauty professionals to identify early-stage skin cancer. The course is free and available online. The Fosters have another rule, too: “Check yourself first!”

Braa Foster became celebrated in the industry as the educator always on platform with Paul Mitchell. After Mitchell’s death, she educated alongside Robert Cromeans. When she left the industry, she and her husband did missionary work and worked on a ministry for cancer patients. It was another salon industry education icon—Winn Claybaugh, who founded the Paul Mitchell school division—who brought the need for skin cancer awareness to Jeanne and Dean Foster’s attention. They’ve approached dermatologists, who are enthusiastic about the idea.

“We’re first trying to reach salons through schools so it becomes a network,” Braa Foster explains. “We want students to share the training with salon owners.” Eyes on Cancer will email a card that you can keep at your station to provide a visual that helps clients know what to look for on their family members’ skin.

“Melanoma has increased 300 percent in recent years,” says Dean Foster, a medical professional and prostate cancer survivor who coaches prostate cancer patients. “The medical industry is crying out for people to become more aware. There are 3.5 million new skin care cases per year; 6 percent of melanomas are on the back of the head and cause 20 percent of the fatalities. They’re hard to find, so they’re found late. But when it’s caught early, melanoma patients have an 85 percent five-year survival rate. Two months can make a difference in cure vs. no cure. So having beauty professionals be able to spot it from the chair—that’s a big deal.”


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