Summer is definitely in Full Swing and I know all of you like myself love to catch some Rays. Who doesn't love soaking up some sun? Honestly, everyone does look a little better with a tan. I'm all for everyone looking there best as long as you are smart about it.
Who can forget Tan Mom? She definitely does not look better with a tan. Sorry I'm not sorry.
I was not very smart growing up and lived in tanning beds. I would frequent them all through high school and college. I think everyone did at that time. It was totally normal and acceptable. I never thought anything about it until one day I got a major wake up call.
I was headed out on the boat with my dad when he noticed a mole on my back that didn't look right. He sent me to a dermatologist right away who biopsied it and didn't find anything. My Dad, a physician, was very sceptical so he sent me to a specialist. The specialist, who happened to be a skin cancer physician and surgeon, also performed a biopsy and diagnosed me with Melanoma. I was told at the young age of 21 that I had the most dangerous form of skin cancer that just so happened to also be the most deadly. I was terrified. What was even scarier is that the median age for the diagnosis of Melanoma was 60. I couldn't understand why me? How had I developed this cancer at such a young age? Was I going to be okay?
This doctor really took the time to educate me so I would understand why I was in this position. He told me that every 15 minutes spent in a tanning bed is equivalent of 7 hours of direct sunlight. He also explained that because I am naturally fair, light haired and eyed with very freckly/moley skin, I am at such higher risk of developing skin cancer. I was like a ticking time bomb…luckily it exploded just in the nick of time. I got a second chance...
After several surgeries, the pathology reports showed that all the cancer was gone. The doctor told me that if caught only 6-12 months later, I would most likely be dead. Yes, he said it just like that. Talk about a major wake up call for a 21 year old! The doc being this straightforward and honestly scaring the shit out of me has saved my life.
After this experience I had to visit a dermatologist every three months for several years and now every six months. I have had many other biopsies all over my body which are not fun and leave very ugly scars but thankfully no other skin cancer has been detected. I have been extremely lucky that it has not returned! I call myself the human chopping block and always expect my derm to cut a little something off me every time I visit her. It's now turned into a little bit of a joke. Not that it's funny but we have to make light of the situation while being extremely conservative.
All I can do now is practice prevention. I'm not perfect by any means and yes my dermatologist gets onto me every visit because she knows I still sit in the sun but that's just who I am. I am a lover of the sun. It makes me happy. Of course I wear SPF ( I will share with you my faves) but I still am able to achieve a tan. No where near the days of my tanning bed nonsense but I do keep some color. I live at the beach and love the sun. What can I say?
My role ever since the Melanoma nightmare has been to educate. I'm constantly sharing my story with friends, family and strangers in hopes that it will make a difference. I couldn't believe I had not shared my story on the blog yet and of course I want you all to know how important this experience has been for me. Life-changing.
Here are my rules:
Everyone should visit a dermatologist once a year for an annual skin exam. Make sure they check everywhere and I mean everywhere! Your scalp, eyes and mouth are all very important too.
If you have moles, you have to keep an eye on them. Know when something has changed or is new. That is the number 1 indicator you may have cancer. Changes in shape, color, size and a development of a new mole is not normal. You should see a dermatologist right away if any of those things happen.
Everyone should wear SPF daily and a higher SPF when out in direct sunlight.
Educate your family, friends and even strangers on the importance of each of these rules. You never know when skin cancer could happen to you or a loved one so it's worth spreading the word before it's too late!
Here are my faves:
This is my daily facial moisturizer. I love that it is matifying for my oily skin so it helps control the shine while it protects. I put it on under my makeup. It also comes in a non-matte version if you have dry skin.
This is my daily body moisturizer. I love that it is a lotion with an SPF and doesn't have that sunscreen smell so it's perfect for everyday wear. I'm in and out of my car all day so it's crucial I stay protected.
I love this stuff for the beach or when I'm going to be in direct sunlight for long periods of time. The spray is great for my back and touch ups while the lotion is great for all over. It's super lightweight and doesn't have that strong sunscreen smell. Don't ever buy the cheap generic sunscreen. It does not work as well! I know so many people who have gotten burnt using that stuff including myself so steer clear!
If you're gonna do a spray tan, this is the only one to do at home. Trust me, I've tried them all! This definitely gives you the most natural tan and never looks orange. I love the application with the colored mousse which works instantly and applying it with the mitt so your hands don't get stained. It's flawless and the best tan in a can for sure!
By far the best chap stick ever! I just love the taste and smell of it. So yummy and moisturizing with a lot of SPF. Get some.
So get out there and soak up some of that Beautiful Sunshine but be smart and help me spread the word that Skin Cancer is so not cool.