Monday, June 27, 2011

Sun Savvy Ladies

I had another post planned for today, but when I saw a link to {av}'s new blog on Ashton's blog, Soulshine, I thought I should share my view on skin protection.

I have always had really tan skin. I get tan very quickly, and am very dark in the summer usually. I have worn sunscreen for most of my life, but I admit there have been times in the past where I have forgotten it. Or, those years as a teenager, where I didn't want to wear it all the time because I wanted to be tan. Huge misconception #1: you can't get tan while wearing sunscreen. This is absolutely wrong!  I were SPF 60 every time I am in the sun and this is the color I get:

Pretty tan, right? That is WITH tons of SPF!!

Huge misconception #2: People with naturally darker skin don't get skin cancer. I have heard so many people with naturally tan skin say they don't need SPF because they don't burn. Though burning is an indication you are getting too much sun, which can lead to skin cancer, you are still getting harmful UV rays without a burn.

I admit, that I have visited a tanning salon more than once in my life. Though never on a regular basis, I know that the few times I went were terrible for my skin. I have also laid out in the sun entirely too much in my life. Though I nearly always wore SPF, I often got too much sun. I regret these things.

Two year ago I began going to a dermatologist once a year for skin checks, and last summer I was glad I planned these visits. I'd had several moles removed before, but only "shaved" and sent to the pathologist. Non had ever shown up as bad. Last July the news was different. My derm found a mole on my back that I really had never noticed. He shaved it, and I found out about a week later that it was severe precancerous. It was not yet the "C" word, but was well on its way to being if it were not taken care of ASAP. I scheduled an appointment to have it fully removed, and went in for a procedure that lasted about 45 minutes. It was numbed, but when that wore off later in the day, it hurt. Badly. Luckily for me, those results came back from the pathologist saying the margins were clear! I was seriously relieved, and it was a HUGE wake up call. Hello Ruthie, a tan is not worth precancerous moles and painful procedures to remove several inches of skin.

After that, my doctor told me to come in every 6 months to get myself checked out, since I had a higher risk of having another bad mole because I had already had one. I went last December and was clear, and I am going in again in 2 weeks. I also wear higher SPF and am much more concerned with reapplying it often. I have extremely sensitive skin, and am allergic to almost every sunscreen, but you can see those that work for me here.

I learned from this experience to keep track of all of my moles, even those that I think are freckles (I have lots of freckles on my face). Any spots that don't go away should be kept track of. I had a white sunspot removed at one point as well. Also, I can't help but get very anxious about dermatologist appointments now, I know I need to go to them and I do, but I dread them.

I know my story is fairly common, and that I am very lucky that the mole was caught early and I did not have skin cancer. But, I could have, had I not been diligent about going to the derm. Please make an appointment to see a local dermatologist today, if for anything to rest assured that you are a-ok!

Now head over to Sun Savvy and sign the pledge to be safe in the sun!



Sundresses and Smiles said...

You are so right!! I get really dark in the summer and rarely burn, but it's important for girls like us to protect ourselves from the sun too!

danielle {breakfast at toast} said...

I got the paperwork today that my margins are clear! So glad you are ok. I know we both got lucky and what we went through was nothing in the grand scheme of things. BUT -- it serves as a reminder. We are not invincible. We must take care of our skin. We never think anything will happen to us but it can. So the time is NOW. Time to take care of ourselves. So glad you shared your story.

Did they give you pain pills? When I had my mole shaved I went through more soreness than when I had it cut out. I took 3 vicodin throughout that day. Was sore/tender but pain never topped a 2 at most.

Ashley said...

i just came from AV's blog w/her pledge. great post....maybe i should look into find a derm in ATL!

Ashton said...

Glad to here you are cancer free! Wonderful post. Hope your next appointment goes as well.