As we get ready to enter another summer season, we can look forward to warmer weather and longer days. But alas, as a melanoma survivor, it is not wise for me to spend hours on end in the bright sunshine the way I once did. Oh well, I can look forward to heaven, where the weather will always be gorgeous and we don't have to worry about getting skin cancer or even protecting ourselves from it.
Yes, I admit I was foolilsh in my younger years, even going so far as regularly using tanning beds. So learn from my mistakes so you don't end up with skin cancer the way I did. Remember, most of the damage to our skin occurs in our younger years but doesn't present itself in the form of cancer until many years later.
Just about the absolute worst thing you can do to yourself, as far as your skin is concerned, is spend time in a tanning bed. Don't believe what anyone tells you if they claim those cancer coffins are okay in any way, shape, or form. Run, don't walk away from tanning beds.
Now that doesn't mean all fake tans are bad. Quite the contrary. The spray-on ones are perfectly safe, as are the creams and lotions. The problem with those is that the product tends to rub-off on your clothes, so use caution if you are wearing light-colored clothing.
Remember that the worst sun of the day is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. So try to schedule your activities before that window or after. But don't get a false sense of security. Just because you are not out at the time of the brightest sunlight, you still need sun protection.
The best protection is.....SHADE. Wear a big, floppy hat,big sunglasses with wide arms on the sides, clothing that covers as much skin as possible, and sit under an unbrella or other shelter when possible.
Besides that, use sunscreen.
Wonderful news! You don't have to spend a fortune on sunscreen in order to protect yourself. In fact, the opposite is true! According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, three out of the top four brands are cheap-o store brands.
The highest score was earned by Target, for the Up and Up Sports SPT 50. In the No. 2 spot, none other than Wal-Mart's Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50. Coming in at No. 4 was Walgreen's Continuous Spray Sports SPF 50.
In case you're wondering, third place went to Coppertone Water Babies 50 lotion. Even though that's not a store brand, it's till relatively inexpensive.
So the good news is you don't have to spend a fortune on fancy sunscreen, but you should buy some fresh every season. If you're like me, you still have sunscreen bottles hanging around the house that are from the 1990s. Get rid of them. They're expired and won't protect you like fresh.
So once you buy your nice, new sunscreen, and still have plenty of money left over, make sure you APPLY THAT SUNSCREEN OFTEN! The biggest mistake people make is just applying it as they begin their day in the sun and then forget about it. You need to re-apply after being in the water and also just every couple of hours.
So to end this post on a downer, sorry, let me caution you about how to recognize skin cancer. This is what may have saved my life. You see, when you have a cancerous mole, it grows DOWN....deep into your skin, then down further to your lymphnodes at which time it can travel to any part of your body and grow there.....like your liver or whatever.
So by all means, get familiar with your moles and be on the lookout for anything suspicious. If you get the cancer removed before it's already gotten too deep, you'll be okay. Like most cancers, if not all, catching it early is crucial.
Go see the doctor if you have a mole if it is any of the following:
- BORDERS ARE UNEVEN
- COLOR IS BLACK OR UNEVEN
- DIAMETER IS LARGER THAN A PENCIL ERASER
- IF IT CHANGES.
My red flag was a mole that changed I noticed it was bigger than it used to be.
I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. God bless you!