Plano woman's story is focus of tanning danger campaign

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on June 30, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 30 at 11:54 PM

PLANO - Teen tanning is a hot button issue in North Texas.

A new law passed in the last year says teens must have permission from their parents to tan at salons. The World Health Organization ranked tanning beds as the highest cancer risk possible. Experts say tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

Now, a North Texas family has become the focus of a national campaign to spread the warning about the risk. The public service announcement revolves around Jamie Regen, a popular Plano High School teenager who started tanning to fit in. But, she is no longer here to speak for herself in the campaign advertisement herself.

"Jamie was popular," said Donna Regen, Jamie's mother. "She was on the drill team."

Regen said she always thought her daughter's beautiful blue eyes and fair skin set her apart. It apparently wasn't enough for Jamie.

"Later, I found out that she was going almost every day during her lunch hours at the high school," she said. "She would leave and do her tanning."

At 20, she was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma skin cancer. Three weeks before her 30th birthday, she died.

Her story is now the focus of the American Academy of Dermatology's national campaign about the potential dangers of indoor tanning.

Regen said it took a long time before she was able to agree to showing the harsh pictures of her daughter in the days before she died. She said she is doing it now for Jamie and others.

"One person an hour dies from melanoma," Regen said in the public service announcement. "Jamie's hour was at one o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, March 16, 2007. I hope no one else has to mark their hour."

The Regens would like an outright ban on indoor tanning.

The Indoor Tanning Association maintains that tanning beds are safe when used in moderation.

E-mail: jstjames@wfaa.com

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