For as long as I can remember, I have loved the feeling of the sun shining down on me. I was a beach baby, spending my summer days at the cottage, long afternoons playing outside with friends, and swimming at the local pool. In my teen years, more beach time, more pool time, even sunbeds. My friends and I loved to see who could get the darkest tans. Lemon juice in our hair, baby oil on our skin, driving around in my jeep with the roof off, sun on my face, wind in my hair, not a care in the world.
Fast forward a few years to me, mid 30’s, sitting in a dermatologists office, having some peculiar spots checked out.
“Well, it IS skin cancer. Good news is it’s the best type to have.” BEST TYPE? SKIN CANCER? Both of these things were words I DID NOT want to hear. It turns out, that all my sun worshiping as a child and teen has left permanent damage that I now have to deal with on an ongoing basis. I have Basal Cell Carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. So far I have had my spots, six of them, treated in many different ways. First, burnt off with liquid nitrogen. This is supposed to kill all the cells around the tissue, and hopefully get rid of the little suckers. Unfortunately for me, this did not work for all of them. I have since had various other treatments, including biopsies and full removals that have left some pretty ugly scars on my face, head and my chest. I have recently had a new batch pop up, and have just purchased a prescription to try and treat, which cost me almost $500. Yowza.
So. What have I learned from all of this? Well, first thing, most skin damage from the sun happens before you are eighteen years old. Wow. Makes sense, since young skin is so vulnerable, and kids are outside more than adults. Just one blistering sunburn DOUBLES your chances in life of developing melanoma!!
So, what can we do? SUNSCREEN. Sun hats, sun shirts, shade seekers. Planning. I keep travel sized sunscreens in my purse and in the car, as well as a stash of extra hats for everyone, so we are always prepared. I wear a moisturizer year round with a 15spf, and up that to a 30spf in the summer. We wear waterproof sunscreen at the beach, and reapply often. I have a great 60spf sun stick that is waterproof for faces, for those delicate areas like lips, eyelids, under eyes and top of the ears. I can actually apply it in the lake on my son, since he never wants to leave the water!
So this spring and summer, be sun smart. Don’t be paranoid, but be prepared. Have fun, enjoy the sun, take care of skin, and take care of your children’s. They’ll thank you later!