Sun Precautions: Straight Talk

The sun.

Some people love the feeling of the sun on their skin.  For me, it makes me feel like a piece of bacon.  Both of my parents are from England.  You can translate that as me having cheap skin that burns when you switch the light on.  Growing up in California, I felt like a vampire, shunning the sun as it beat down on me 300 days out of the year.  And even though I have tried to hide from the sun for the majority of my adult life, I am still feeling the sting of the sun's mighty strength.  I just had 2 biopsies on moles, one leading to surgery on my back to have the surrounding skin removed as one of the suspicious moles was just a little too suspicious.

A little more than a year ago I lost my little sister to melanoma.  At the ripe old age of 26.

I would have had them take 20 times more skin if they said it would make me safe.

For me, tanning is like smoking.  Why tempt fate.  The side effects are deadly and the long term results are the same for both: wrinkles, gross looking skin, premature aging and the strong likelihood of cancer.  Find another hobby.  One that isn't going to put your life in jeopardy.

Smokers and sun worshippers don't like this kind of talk.  And instantly defenses go up.  I understand.  I used to be a smoker and I loved smoking.  Until one day I took a good look at my mom, who smoked for decades (but quit 30 years ago--thank god) and deduced that smoking wasn't going to be a good look for me.  Her skin couldn't handle it.  And I knew mine wouldn't be able to either, and I quit on the spot.

Vanity won the battle over nicotine.  Whatever it takes.

But here I am, a true sun fearing wanna-be vampire who is paying the price for the sun that I do get, just walking and driving around.  I seem to have some precancer on my lower lip.  From lipgloss??  I am not entirely sure, but the thought of having to have the errant cells burned off sounds scary.  But not as scary as cancer.  And so off they will come.  (And I'm committed to wearing a matte lipstick every time I leave the house from now on.)

I am writing this because I think that NO ONE should die from melanoma.  If you keep your eyes peeled it is entirely possible to catch it, remove the skin/mole and be clear.  My sister let a weird looking mole go unchecked.  And by the time it was biopsied, the cancer had a mighty hold on her body.  She lived for 5 years with Stage 4 cancer, an incredible feat.  She lived her life to the fullest; had a job, a boyfriend, went to school, had terrific adventures, but ultimately, it was avoidable.

I'd give anything to have her back.

Go see a dermatologist.  Get checked every 6 months.  Just go do it.  Especially if you're a freckly or moley person.  And find a dermatologist who is passionate about what they do.  You want them to care about your safety and well being.  Biopsies aren't fun, but you know what really isn't fun?  Surgery.  Or cancer.

So please, do it for me.  Go have someone check out your skin.  And if you see me in LA, I'll be the one in a jacket on an 80 degree day, wearing a hat and bright red lipstick.

(That's me on the right, in Tahiti.  This is how I roll on sunny locations....covered head to toe)