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Maplewood's Chip Madsen: Taking the 'Kid at Tanning Salon' Scandal Seriously

A Maplewood resident is working to educate kids — and their parents — about skin protection and care.

The story of Nutley, NJ mom Patricia Krentcil, 44, taking her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth has grabbed the public's attention.

For the record: Back in April, Krentcil's daughter told her school nurse she got a sunburn from tanning with her mother, prompting the school to call child services. .

The story has prompted a lot of discussion — mostly because of Krentcil's extraordinary appearance. The Star-Ledger wrote that Krentcil's "deep tan makes the Jersey Shore crew look ghostly." Her own attorney has called her "obsessed with tanning."

But one local expert reminds us to take this recent scandal seriously.

"I suppose it’s great fun to mock Ms. Krentcil, but make no mistake, melanoma is no joke," William "Chip" Madsen, Maplewood resident and Executive Director of the Joseph E. Enright Foundation wrote to Patch.

"As a Stage IV melanoma survivor currently under treatment with one of the newest treatments, I think the focus of most comments is misplaced," Madsen continued. "We should not be talking about 'tanorexia' but about the dangers of tanning salons where the UV exposure is much more than from the sun."

The Joseph E. Enright Foundation is a non-profit organization, based in Summit, that is dedicated to educating the community about melanoma and other skin cancers as well as working with medical professionals to prevent this deadly skin cancer.

"The evidence is clear there is a direct correlation between indoor tanning use by minors and increased cancer risk," wrote Madsen. "Despite such evidence, some tanning salons issue misleading safety claims. It’s no small wonder that the greatest increase in melanoma cases comes from women aged 15-39 according to a study at Stanford University."

"I feel too often the press focuses on extremes and what sells papers and not on the background. We are working to bring free sun safety workshops to schools, camps, boy/girl scout troops throughout the state so that no one has to go through what I’m going through."

The Joseph E. Enright Foundation is running a Health Trek fundraising event featuring three bike routes, a timed run and a leisurely walk on May 12. The Trek "launches" from Warren, NJ. Read more about it and register here. Funds raised will be used to support sun safety workshops for kids.

"I, too, thought that skin cancer could never happen to me – it did," said Madsen. 

For more information on melanoma and other cancers, please visit www.josephenrightfoundation.org.

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