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Free skin cancer screenings
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and with summer approaching, that's a reminder to be extra vigilant about wearing sunscreen every day. But sun protection alone is not enough. Skin cancer screenings are essential. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer over the course of their lives, but this disease is nearly 100 percent curable when caught and treated early.

To promote early detection, Olay and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) have partnered for "Skin Cancer Takes Friends," a nationwide program offering women the opportunity make an appointment with one of more than 300 participating dermatologists nationwide for a free screening for themselves and a friend or loved one. Locally, 11 dermatologists in New Orleans and the surrounding areas are participating. For a list of those doctors, log on to www.skincancertakesfriends.org.

Antidepressant study
Dr. James Barbee, Professor of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, is the principal investigator of a new depression study that will measure the effects of adding a derivative of folic acid (Deplin) to standard antidepressants. The study is for those who continue to experience symptoms of depression despite receiving ongoing treatment with an SSRI antidepressant. SSRI antidepressants include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro).

Deplin is classified as a medical food. It also occurs naturally in our bodies, as it originally derives from folic acid, a principal vitamin found in leafy green foods. To determine whether oral doses of Deplin may help boost the effectiveness of antidepressants in reducing the symptoms of depression, Dr. Barbee and his staff are seeking participants for the study.

To qualify, subjects must have major depressive disorder and meet specific criteria. Patients cannot participate in the study if they are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of serious unstable illness or are dependent on controlled substances. Not everyone who consents to be screened will qualify for the study. Investigational medications will be provided at no cost, and participants will be compensated for their time. For information, call 897-8559.

Parenting Classes
When it comes to being a good parent, common sense will only take you so far. The Parenting Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital offers a variety of classes to help parents. The New Baby Support Group offers new parents an opportunity to discuss child development and parenting tips with other people who have babies as well as professionals.

Pre-K @ Play is an educational, age-appropriate program designed for parents and their children to have fun and learn together. The class includes music and movement, hands-on exploration, arts and craft activities and story time with a specific monthly theme.

Active Parenting for Stepfamilies is a six-part series focused on ways to build a bond with other stepfamily members, enhance communication with each other, avoid power struggles and learn positive discipline techniques. For more information, call the Parenting Center at (985) 898-4435 or email questions to ksupan@stph.org.

Kids First donation
Children's Hospital recently received a $90,000 donation from Nu-Lite Electrical Wholesalers as part of the company's Energizing New Orleans hurricane recovery program. The money will be used to purchase equipment and supplies for the hospital's Kids First satellite clinics, which provide primary care to children in underserved neighborhoods.

Nu-Lite, one of the largest independent electrical distributors in the New Orleans area, teamed up with several of its manufacturers to create the recovery program, which is dedicated to generating donations to help New Orleans' local charities and institutions.

Although Children's Hospital's Uptown facility was spared during Hurricane Katrina, four of the hospital's five Kids First satellite clinics were severely damaged. Nu-Lite's donation will help purchase new equipment for the clinics and will help Children's Hospital continue other services, such as the Tooth Bus, which provides dental care to children in low-income neighborhoods. For more information, call the Public Affairs Department at Children's Hospital at 896-9373.

Relay for Life
The American Cancer Society invites cancer survivors and their caregivers to the Relay for Life survivors ceremony Saturday, May 19, at Covington High School. Share your strength with others who are dealing with cancer and join in the fun and festivities surrounding the Relay. Opening ceremonies begin at 4 p.m. and will be followed by the survivor lap and survivor celebration. To register or receive an invitation, call (985) 898-4581 or email ccorizzo@stph.org. Health-care professionals interested in volunteering at the event are encouraged to call or email for more information.

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