Do you love to lay for long periods in the sun, allowing its warmth to gently turn your white skin into a golden tan? Are swimming, playing at the beach, and staying out all day at the top of your summer fun list? John and Maggie certainly felt that way 40 years ago! But 20 years ago, they got a serious wake-up call. That’s when they both were diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma.
The least dangerous of the three types of skin cancer (melanoma being the worst), they didn’t think much of it at first. But after the first session of freezing the growths off, they changed their minds in a hurry! Freezing may sound cold, but it feels hot, like you are being burned and it hurts!
John was “lucky.” His twice-yearly skin cancer treatment stayed simple – just the freezing. Poor Maggie had to have the same skin cancer treatment but she also had to have minor surgery a few times to remove growths from the in-between type, squamous cell carcinoma. That particular skin cancer treatment hurt worse because more was required. It was more invasive, it required more scary and sometimes painful doctor visits, and a couple of times she even had to have stitches. She hated the skin cancer treatment on her nose the most, because of how it looked!
John has passed away, but Maggie and her senior home care giver daughter spend plenty of time cautioning others to take it easy in the sun. When they first started having their beach days, sun block was barely even heard of. Now we have lots of great choices. A favorite is waterproof sun block which lasts longer than water resistant sun block. It needs to be applied liberally and often, as it does wear off in water. The general rule of thumb is to reapply at least every 80 minutes you are in the water.
When you and your kids aren’t swimming, put on a hat, shorts, and cute T-Shirt to help protect your skin. This is especially true for the toddlers and babies in the family as their skin is more tender. This is just as true on cloudy days, too. You might not see the sun, but its rays are definitely impacting your skin!
If you decide you absolutely have to have a tan, how about sunless tanning lotion? It can actually look nice now. If not, time yourself when laying out. It’s too easy to fall asleep and lay there for hours, literally. Then you wake up and spend the next three days miserable and the following three days shedding skin like a snake! NOT a pretty picture.
It may seem like a hassle to mess with sun block, extra clothes, and timers. There are certainly no guarantees in this life for much of anything. But I suspect your skin will thank you as you go through the years and I know you’ll be thrilled if you never have to endure a skin cancer treatment!