Students gain from conference

Thursday, March 15, 2012
During Northview High School's annual We Wish You Well women's health conference, NHS seniors Ben Beckley and Briana Cook act out a skit of a grandmother and granddaughter discussing the importance of young women receiving vaccinations like the Gardisil shot, which protects against the Human Papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus that could cause genital warts and cervical cancer.

Northview High School (NHS) teacher Joanna Connors is using her past struggles with skin cancer to educate students about the disease, as well as other women's health issues.

Several medical professionals shared "pearls of wisdom" with NHS seniors Thursday morning during the school's sixth We Wish You Well women's health conference.

Female seniors gathered in the NHS auditorium for a day of educational and informational fun.

"I have had skin cancer three times as a result of sun exposure when I was younger, and I used to lay out in the sun," Connors said. "I've been very open and honest with the students in my class about the effects of skin cancer. The choices you make today will affect your health and your physical beauty in the future."

Physician Assistant Lauren Fahey and Medical Assistant Samantha Danz, who are employed at Dr. Thomas Huff's office, Dermatology Inc., Avon, showed the young ladies who attended images of melanoma cancer patients -- post surgery-- who developed the ailments through indoor and outdoor tanning.

NHS senior Briana Cook took part in the conference by acting with fellow senior Ben Beckley in a skit.

"If there's anything I've taken away from this yet today, I didn't realize that when you go into the 'no-burn' beds at the tanning salon that they are actually more harmful to you," Cook said. "I thought it was the burning part that was what caused the cancer. Even the basal cells, they can just look like pimples."

Cook learned this information after Fahey and Danz explained to those in the audience that it's the UVB rays that cause a person's skin to burn, but the UVA rays are actually more harmful.

"I always tell the girls who are getting ready to be in weddings or going to prom to get the spray tans if they are going to do it," Connors told The Brazil Times. "My doctor told me recently that three times in a tanning bed can increase your risk of skin cancer by six times."

Connors added she looks at this day of informational fun and prizes as a gift to the NHS senior girls, but this year, some young ladies from Clay City High School and Cumberland Academy also joined the conference.

During the seminar, local podiatrist Dr. Miranda Goodale spoke about healthy feet, while Radiologic Technologist Michelle McCrea shared information about breast health and the importance of regular exams.

In addition, three other local health conscience community members also spoke including Community Rural Health Nurse Practitioner Carrie Cunningham, Clay County Health Nurse Kim Hyatt and Indiana State University School of Nursing Chairperson Esther Acree.

The last guest speaker was Clay County Director of Character Based Education Kandace Brown, who read true stories to those in attendance about recognizing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Brown urged the girls to examine their partners and make wise decisions concerning who they enter into relationships with.

"Never allow a man to enter your body, if he isn't worthy enough to enter your heart first," Brown said.

The program's closing remarks included a PowerPoint presentation of current and prior pictures of NHS teachers when they were younger.

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