Love the skin you're in - Fundraiser for Ann's Hope Foundation

Hey friends!!! I’m so excited to have recently reconnected with the fabulous ladies of Artery Ink to collaborate and host a “skin related” fundraiser for Ann’s Hope Foundation from October 12, 2018 - October 26, 2018.  A portion of the sales from this fundraiser will be donated to Ann’s Hope Foundation.


Ann’s Hope Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit started in 2005 in honor of the co-founders loved ones who lost their battles to melanoma. The goal of the foundation is to raise funds for melanoma research, awareness and education. Since the inception of the foundation, the organization has donated $1.5 million in research grants for melanoma cancer. 

The foundation uses their fundraising events to educate the community about the deadly disease. Ann’s Hope Foundation’s goal is to seek ground-breaking research and clinical trials that will help find a cure for melanoma. The organization works to teach the community of the dangers of melanoma cancer and prevention. Learn more at 


Your skin is your largest organ It’s compromised of three layers: The epidermis; the top layer, the dermis; the middle layer that contains hair follicles and glands, and inner layer, the hypodermis, which is mostly fat and connective tissue that attaches the skin to the muscles.  

Skin color is determined by cells in the epidermis and those cells are known as melanocytes. The melanocytes secretes a pigmented substance called melanin and the more melanin in the cells, the darker the skin. Melanocytes can become cancerous and melanoma is that cancer. Most melanoma cells still make melanin, so melanoma tumors are usually brown or black. But some melanomas do not make melanin and can appear pink, tan, or even white. 

Having darkly pigmented skin lowers your risk of melanoma at these more common sites, but anyone can get melanoma on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and under the nails. Melanomas in these areas make up a much larger portion of melanomas in African Americans than in whites. 

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. One person dies every hour of every day from the disease and the number of American’s diagnosised continue to rise every year. There will be about 91,270 diagnosed in 2018 and about 9,320 will die. 


Protect your skin! Wear sunscreen, everyday. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UBA rays and has an SPF of at least 30. Wear sun protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses. Seek shade during the peak mid-day sun, and do not ever use tanning beds. Indoor tanning has been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by 75%. Protect your children, one bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles your child’s risk of developing melanoma later in life.

Mara & Gloria started Artery Ink 5 years ago with the mission to encourage and inspire others to learn more about their bodies and take better care of them. Their unique and detailed line drawings bring out the beauty that lives in us all. Partnering with organizations like Ann's Hope is important to Artery Ink because artwork is a universal language which can bring people together, spark joy and foster learning. Wearing your Artery Ink apparel out is bound to start up many conversations which helps spread awareness and love for our bodies and the journeys we go through while living in them. 

For more follow Artery Ink on one of their social media platforms:  Facebook, Instagram & Twitter @arteryink 


I was and continue to be grateful to be Ann’s Hope Foundation 2018 Honorary Survivor. As the result of my diagnosis, I’m beyond passionate about raising awareness of Melanoma and protecting the skin we are in. If you’re new to me and my story, I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma in 2017. You can view my story here:

Thank you Mara and Gloria from Artery Ink for your time, talent, incredible Art and mostly for being part of this journey! 

Always, love and protect the skin you are in!

Shine on,

Jennifer Birney

Today is Melanoma Monday - 5/7/18

The aim of Melanoma Monday is to raise awareness about melanoma. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer in which cells within moles on the skin becoming malignant (cancerous) and can spread rapidly to other areas of the body if left untreated.

Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most deadly and accounts for about 75% of all skin cancer fatalities.

Melanomas can also develop in other areas of the body such as the eye, underneath nails and inside the nose and mouth. Whilst melanoma is thought to be a less common form of skin cancer, in recent years the incidence of melanoma seems to be increasing.

Melanoma is more common in people with white, fair skin and those who have experienced high levels of UV exposure. Sun burns, often experienced during childhood and the use of sun beds are two risk factors associated with melanoma.

Melanoma Monday aims to encourage people to examine their skin regularly and seek medical assistance if there are recognized signs of a malignant mole. Early detection and treatment is associated with a much higher survival rate.

By educating as many as possible about melanoma and encouraging early detection, Melanoma Monday have helped saved lives.

Melanoma Warning Signs: ABCDE

  • A - Asymmetry: is the mole asymmetrical? If you imagine a line drawn across the center of the mole, if the two halves do not match then they are considered asymmetrical. If you have an asymmetrical mole seek medical assistance.
  • B - Border: does the border or edge of the mole look uneven? If so, please seek medical advice.
  • C - Color: is the mole one uniform color? If there are several colors or shades of a color within a mole this could be a warning sign. Seek medical assistance.
  • D - Diameter: how big is the mole? Melanomas often have a diameter of 6mm (1/4inch) or more (diameter is the length across the mole).
  • E - Evolving: has the mole changed in shape, size or color? Have you noticed any other changes such as bleeding, itching or puss coming from the mole? These may be signs of a malignant mole so seek medical assistance.

Early Detection Is Crucial For Treatment Success

As with many other types of cancer, treatments are more successful when there is early detection. However, unlike most cancers, melanoma does normally not respond well to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or medication.

When melanoma is at a later stage and has metastasized (spreading to other parts of the body), treatment options are limited and palliative care is the main course of action.

Drug treatments for melanoma, when successful, do not provide a cure. They may extend life for a time measured in months not years. There will always be exceptions and some people with metastatic (stage 4) melanoma will live for many years after diagnosis.

However, the prognosis for advanced melanoma is normally not good hence early detection is critical for success.

My message for a lifetime will always be to encourange prevention by:

  • Seeking the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Since my diagnosis, I encourage everybody I can to get naked, self check and be evaluated even  for baseline purposes.  It’s not always comfortable for some to shed their clothing, but it’s important for good reason, to be aware, stay aware and be evaluated when necessary. 

I am proud to have been selected as the 2018 Honorary Survivor for Ann’s Hope Foundation for Melanoma Cancer.  Join us for the 14th Annual Block Melanoma Run, Walk and TEAM CATHY Kids Fun Run on May 20th, 2018 at the Milwaukee County Zoo.Register today for the 5k Run, 3k Walk and TEAM CATHY Kids Fun Run which includes FREE Zoo Admission and Parking for the day and a long sleeve SPF 40 Performance shirt. Staff from Froedtert/ MCW will be on hand conducting skin spot checks as well! If you’d like to join or donate to my team, my teams name is “Sunshine Daydream”.

For more information, to register, volunteer or donate, click here:

I recently photographed a series of fine art portraiture with the focus on the human body, highlighting the skin. Slideshow is attached and will hopefully motivate you to get naked, check yourself and love the skin you're in…enjoy! Not only am I hyper-aware of my own skin and markings, but I’m aware of those in my family as well. As a mother, it’s also of utmost importance for me to teach my children about doing self checks on their own skin, to be aware of markings, and what to do if something appears or seems to be irregular or changing.

Don’t forget to check your self and those you love. After, drop me a “selfie” in the comments with a thumbs up.

Thank you,


To read my original blogpost related to my diagnosis, please click here: