The dreaded 6-letter word.
No one wants to hear it.
Too many people are hearing it.
I could sit here and list of statistics about skin cancer, but I’m not going to. I’m writing this first of all because May is Melanoma Awareness month, and second because my family and friends have been effected.
I want to tell you a little story that hit very close to home. About 5 years ago my mom went into her yearly physical exam and wanted to mention a suspicious looking lesion on her skin. Her primary doctor said that she thought she should have a dermatologist take a look at it. She went to see the dermatologist who luckily told her it wasn’t anything serious, a lesion called a keratosis. Her dad had many of these. It was a patch of skin that was a benign rough surfaced area. No biggie. But since she was there the dermatologist decided to do a full body check. (Keep in mind we are a family of Irish folk with pale skin and freckles.) As he was doing his exam, he asked my mom she had ever noticed a different lesion, which was in the center of her back, on her spine. She hadn’t, of course, who ever looks on their back for moles? (She has since become best friends with a large hand held mirror). He told her it was highly suspicious and removed it. This lesion made the rounds..first to his favorite San Francisco lab, then Dartmouth Hitchcock cancer lab, and finally Mass General Hospital lab. It came back positive for melanoma. She ended up having surgery to remove the rest of the lesion and a larger area to make sure they got all of the margins. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” as the doctor put it. Meaning it looked innocent, but absolutely was getting ready to rear it’s ugly head. During the removal they also removed lymph nodes near the site, which thankfully came back benign. She didn’t need chemo or radiation thank goodness, but it gave us all quite a scare. She made the trek to Boston every 3 months for a year, and then slowly down to every 6 months, then yearly, and luckily she has stayed cancer free. But she has this as a reminder…
I soon found out that a cousin of mine had been battling Melanoma as well, for many years in fact. Had gone in and out of remission. He finally lost his battle this past winter after it came back and metastasized to other parts of his body. Skin cancer killed him.
It’s funny, because when I think of skin cancer I think curable. It CAN BE, but that’s not always the case.
In the last 3 years I’ve known close to 10 people who have discovered melanomas on their skin. Some that only needed a small area removed, and others that have had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. A friend of ours recently battled melanoma. I want to show you some pictures of what happened to him. These are somewhat graphic photos, so be prepared.
This first picture is where his melanoma was excised.
This photo is from removing the inguinal lymph nodes that were effected:
And I guess I’m showing these to kind of “scare you straight”, although most of you won’t change your ways or even admit that this could happen to you if you don’t protect yourself. But it CAN!!
You can bet that ever since this happened to my mom and our friends, I’ve had a wake up call. I now go to the dermatologist on a yearly basis and get a full skin check. I’ve had several suspicious moles removed and luckily they all came back negative. But with my history of sunbathing and tanning booths, I need to keep my eyes wide open and bring sunscreen with me every where I go.
Research is showing that indoor tanning increases melanoma risk by 75%.
I spent from ages 13-25 going to tanning beds. That means I am at VERY high risk for skin cancer, even if I didn’t set foot outside ever again.
I grew up in New England where winter last for upwards of 6 months. And it’s not a sunny winter. It’s grey and gloomy.
Ever heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Yea, it’s a real thing. Every year around March I would go to the tanning bed. I thought a little tan would help me feel better, get rid of the pasty white and elevate my mood. And guess what?! IT DOES elevate your mood. Heck my mom and I used to go to get a “base” tan. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about. I STILL to this day hear people say, “Oh, I’ll put on sunscreen on in a little while, I want to work on my base so I don’t burn when I go on vacation.” My husband STILL says this. I CALL BULLSHIT. Denial people, it’s called denial. It ain’t just a river in Egypt. Getting a base tan won’t keep you from getting burnt, or even getting skin cancer.
According to the Melanoma Research Foundation “The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies tanning beds and tanning lamps into its highest cancer risk category – carcinogenic to humans, the same category as other hazardous substances such as plutonium and certain types of radium.”
I refuse to leave my kids early, so you know what I’m doing?
Like I said, Melanoma IS curable IF CAUGHT IN TIME, but it can also be DEADLY.I'm ready to #getnaked for #melanoma #earlydetection saves lives!! @curemelanoma @suzy399 Click To Tweet
So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE….
1. GET NAKED
Stand in front of a mirror and check out your skin.
2. Check your skin regularly.
Ladies, I hope you are all doing your breast exams and if you are, this is the perfect time to add this in and make it a routine.
3. Make sure your significant others will point something out that is new or that doesn’t look right.
4. Be aware that not all melanomas follow the typical ABCDE guidelines.
- A-Asymmetrical: Melanoma’s are usually asymmetrical
- B-Border: Melanoma’s usually have irregular borders
- C-Color: Melanoma’s often are more than one color and an uneven distribution of color
- D-Diameter: Melanoma’s are often greater than 6mm wide, or the size of a pencil eraser
“The evolution of your mole(s) has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to diagnosing a melanoma. Knowing what is normal for YOU could save your life. If a mole has gone through recent changes in color and/or size, bring it to the attention of a dermatologist immediately.”
So, all of this info is great, but how do you actually protect yourself? If you are like me and have kids you are outside ALL OF THE TIME. How do you keep yourself safe and your kids??? I’m gonna tell you!
1. Stay out of the sun!!
Unfortunately this is the only way to keep yourself and your family truly safe. And it’s just not possible. But when you can stay in…do it.
Please, lather yourself and your kids up. I sometimes forget to put sunscreen on the kids when we head out to the park and always beat myself up about it. However, it’s only effective if you use enough and you re-apply! Did you know that water resistant sunscreens only last 40 minutes?! It’s easy to lose track of time in the pool with the kiddos, so don’t forget to reapply!!
3. Wide brimmed hats
Think J-Lo ladies!
And these cute hats for the kiddos! I picked this up at Costco for $9.99. It’s UPF 50+ and blocks 99% of UV Rays!
Just because it’s Melanoma awareness month doesn’t mean there aren’t different types of skin cancer. In fact, basal and squamous cell carcinomas make up 90% of skin cancers. They are most often found on the head and neck!! So wear your hats!!
4. UPF/SPF clothing
There is no research showing how well sunscreen protects you from UVA rays, so sunscreen isn’t enough. The sunscreen currently on the market only refers to UVB rays. So right now, the only sure way to protect yourself is to stay out of the sun. But who can do that? My kids only want to be outside! So the next best thing are sun protective clothing. I’ve never owned any sun protective clothing, but I ‘m think that now is the time to start thinking about it. Recently, I got the chance to try out Coolibar, a line of sun-protective clothing.
I chose to try out the Banded Fitness Tee. Now I’ll be honest, when I was first asked to try this out I was a little apprehensive thinking that they probably wouldn’t be the most stylish clothes out there. Not that style really matters when it comes you your skin safety and ultimately your LIFE, but it definitely helps! Here are the details on the shirt I chose!
- Feather-light and cool for sports and activity
- Soft, smooth polyester/spandex knit SUNTECT® fabric
- CooltectTM technology accelerates moisture wicking for a cooler workout
- Gathered details at shoulder and hemline
- Thumbholes for extra hand protection
- Body length: 26” (size medium
- Easy care: machine wash, tumble dry
- Rated UPF 50+
It was actually super cute! Great for layering over a tank!
I absolutely loved the side hem…it’s the little girly details that count sometimes to give it the extra edge.
And the roucheing on the sleeves? LOVE.
Awesome thumbholes….I can’t live without thumbholes.
I absolutely loved this top and have been wearing it all of the time. Now I’m just trying to figure out what else to get. I am at such high risk for skin cancer I NEED to protect myself. Coolibar has so many varieties of sun protective clothing for men, women and children and the are super cute!!
*I received the Coolibar top in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
And just for my readers Coolibar would like to offer you 15% off and free shipping during the month of May for Melanoma Awareness Month.
Just use code “ACS15 ” during checkout!
Sun protective clothing doesn’t mean drab and boring, it can definitely be fun and fashionable I discovered! Whoo hoo!
So what is the lesson?
And wear you sun protective clothing!!
Coolibar is donating $1 for every order in May to the American Cancer Society. So PLEASE PLEASE be #SKINSMART this summer and protect yourselves!4 Ways to keep your family safe from the sun and a discount from @coolibar and @suzy399 be #skinsmart Click To Tweet
Do you wear sunscreen all of the time?
Do you have any experiences with skin cancer?
How do YOU protect yourself from the sun?