May is melanoma awareness month and as the weather gets nicer and we approach summer I wanted to write something about protecting your skin and why it’s so important!
The video above really struck me when I first saw it a couple years ago and it is so well done. If you have a few minutes – watch it!
It is so irritating to me to see people not care about getting sunburnt and to think that being tan is the coolest thing. I understand that our media and society tells us these things but I think the media should be more interested in advocating for sun safety and preventing skin cancer.
I didn’t ask for skin cancer, definitely didn’t ask for the worst kind of skin cancer, and I didn’t ask to have cancer treatment. I didn’t ask to lose a year of my life fighting cancer. But when you intentionally sit out in the sun and fry yourself under the harmful UV rays with no sun protection you are literally asking for it.
Sometimes people think that I now know it all about sun protection because I had skin cancer – and I wish I did! – but I’m the first to admit that I don’t know it all. I would consider myself to have always been very careful in the sun. My summer memories from my childhood are my mom, other family members and babysitters covering me in sunscreen but even with sunscreen I would still burn. The fair skin and red hair was a downfall for me. Learning about protecting myself from the sun, especially after having melanoma and being treated for melanoma, will be an ongoing process – especially this summer. I don’t know it all but I will always advocate for sun protection.
Shade should be considered your best friend. Hats, sunscreen, sunglasses (melanoma can develop in your eyes!) and long clothing that will protect your exposed skin are all good options! Ladies, use makeup with SPF and moisturizer with SPF every single day – even if it’s not sunny out. The clouds provide a protective layer from the sun but rays still get through! All these things will help to protect you this summer from the harsh rays.
You don’t have to avoid the sun to be sun safe but there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of harm the sun poses to you.
Not all melanomas develop from moles but if you have a mole that is a different colour, a weird size, a weird shape, then you should get it checked. Even if your moles do not have these characteristics, I would actually strongly encourage you to make a doctor’s appointment and get your skin checked anyway because melanoma is a young persons cancer.
Normal moles are symmetrical, round, with regular edges, a light or dark brown colour, with a diameter less than a pencil eraser.
The sun causes sunburn, skin aging, solar urticaria, benign summer light eruption, photocarcinogenesis, and melasma (if you’re pregnant). Damage from the sun also causes skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, spinocellular carcinoma and melanoma).
Buy a good sunscreen for this summer. You might think it’s hard to justify spending $20 or more on a bottle of sunscreen but it’s worth it and $20 is not much in comparison to the thousands of dollars you could spend per month on chemotherapy.
Look for a sunscreen that is:
- HIGH PROTECTION: between SPF 30 and 60
- BROAD SPECTRUM and will protect you against UVA and UVB rays.
- WATER RESISTANT
- PARABEN FREE
You’re not too cool to wear sunscreen and you’re not invincible. I urge you to be sun safe this summer!
Get naked for melanoma. Check your skin. Wear sunscreen.
I’m not an expert but if you have any questions I would love to chat with you about them!