Archives

Skin Diaries This is Brave

This is Brave: Norah O’Donnell

I never thought I would hear the words that I had been diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. And I admit, the first thing I did was cry. And then, I felt really sorry for myself. It took some time but then I realized that as a wife and a mother, I had to be strong.

But it is difficult to be strong when one feels incredibly vulnerable. My diagnosis was the first time I confronted my own mortality. It was also the first time I think my children did as well.

“So, wait, you have cancer?” asked my 8-year-old daughter Riley.

“Yes, but we are going to cut it out!” I replied optimistically.

“Is there any chance you can die from the surgery?” asked my 9-year-old son Henry

“I’m absolutely not going to die,” I assured him. “I mean, eventually I will. But not from this surgery.” When I left my daughter’s bedroom I felt horrible for sharing with them that I was having a relatively minor surgery. There was no need for me to worry them.

But I was scared and, perhaps selfishly, really appreciated their deep concern. Over the next few months after the surgery, my daughters, Riley and Grace, took turns at putting a healing ointment on the scar on my back, which I couldn’t reach.

“Oh mom, it looks soooo much better today,” my darling Riley would say, providing such positive feedback.

My dermatologist, Dr. Elizabeth Hale, made the diagnosis early. I had the surgery January 2017, which included a 3-inch incision and about 25 stitches. The scar has healed, but is still quite visible. It is a reminder that early detection saves lives.

Part of my preventative care now means that I return to Dr. Hale every three to four months for full-body checks to make sure there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Each visit requires the strength to confront the scary possibility that she will find another malignant mole.

The reality is that I can prevent a truly devastating diagnosis now with frequent check-ups. The harder truth I’ve come to learn is that I could have prevented the cancer altogether.

“More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking,” Dr. Hale told me. Just think about that.

Well, I am doing more than just thinking about it. I’m telling my children that while skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, it is also the most preventable.

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where jumping in the pool wasn’t just leisurable, it was one of the only ways to cool off! With the temperature pushing 100 degrees in the summer, we spent hours in the pool, many times without sunscreen. In high school, I would visit a tanning salon during the winter. I confessed this history to Dr. Hale who told me, “People that indoor tan before the age of 35 years have a 75% increased chance of melanoma.”

I know I made some bad choices. Those attempts to get a tan likely led to my cancer. But by sharing this with my children and others, I hope that my story can help all of us learn some valuable lessons and have the strength to embrace prevention.

Skin Cancer Facts can be found at http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts

3 Comments
Experts Say Live Wisely

10 Ways to Safely Enjoy the Sun

Between soccer games, outdoor concerts, travel and everyday moments, we are experiencing life outside more than ever. So, how can we develop a healthy relationship with the sun and stay safe? Experts recommend you start with these top 10 steps for protecting your family and preventing sun damage:

1. WEAR A WIDE-BRIMMED HAT WHENEVER POSSIBLE

One of the most common places for skin cancer is on the human scalp. A wide-brimmed (3-inch or greater) hat covers places where it is difficult to apply sunscreen, such as the tops of the ears and the back of the neck.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

2. WEAR UV-BLOCKING SUNGLASSES

Ocular melanoma is the most common primary cancer of the eye in adults. Always wear high-quality UV-protective sunglasses whenever outdoors. Good sunglasses should block 100% of the sun’s UV spectrum – Ocular Melanoma Foundation

3. PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH TRUSTED, TRIED AND TRUE UPF 50+ CLOTHING

Clothing is the best means of sun protection. Choose garments with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) label of 50 or higher to block 98% of all UV rays. A standard white cotton T-shirt will have a UPF of 5-7.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

4. DON’T GET BURNED!

What we call sunlight is technically ultraviolet radiation (UV Rays). In addition to cosmetic concerns like premature aging, wrinkling, leathery skin and unattractive sun spots (90% of which are caused by UV rays), UV rays alter our molecular structure and cause deep damage and skin cancer. In other words—don’t get burned! – American Cancer Society

5. WEAR GLOVES OR SUNSCREEN ON YOUR HANDS YEAR-ROUND

The backs of your hands, like your face, get sun exposure every day. The result: thinning, crinkled skin, dark spots, and skin cancers. Wear gloves or sunscreen year-round.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

6. ALWAYS WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES WHEN OUTDOORS

The heat can tempt you to shed clothes, sacrificing sun safety for comfort.  UPF clothing is made of lightweight, high-tech fabrics specially treated to be “breathable” and “sweat-wicking”. – Skin Cancer Foundation

7. WHETHER YOU’RE ON A PLANE, TRAIN, CAR OR BOAT, COVER UP

By law, most front windshields in cars are treated to filter out most UVA rays, but side and rear windows generally aren’t. If you’re flying to your vacation and love the window seat, know that UVA rays come through airplane windows. To be safe, wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing anytime you’re traveling. Skin Cancer Foundation

8. DIVERSIFY YOUR SUN-PROTECTION ROUTINE

Because exposure to UV light is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, everyone should protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen of SPF 30+ on exposed areas. American Academy of Dermatology

9. PROTECT YOURSELF ON OVERCAST DAYS

NEW: Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. This is why people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they’ve spent time outside with no sun protection. –Skin Cancer Foundation

10. SHARE YOUR SUN-SAFE HABITS WITH OTHERS, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN

One blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of cancer. Protect them with lightweight and breathable sun-protective clothing, ideally long-sleeves and long pants in bright colors. Cover eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses and scalps and necks with broad-brimmed hats with brims 4” around or greater. – Skin Cancer Foundation

 

Pdf free icon
Sun Tips (Attachment)

 

No Comments
Events Parenting SunAWARE

Pretty for Prom? Tanning Isn’t Part of the Routine Anymore

Pretty Prom - Coolibar

It’s prom season again, which means thousands of teens – girls and boys – flock to their local indoor tanning salons in search of a healthy glow for the big night out. But before they do, the Skin Cancer Foundation has some information for you about tanning for the prom.

Teens tend to be concerned about young-looking skin, and the SCF points out that 90% of changes to the skin that most people associate with aging are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Tanning leads to wrinkles, spots and an aged look early in life; they can start to appear even before the indoor tanner turns 30.

This doesn’t even touch on the dangers of developing skin cancer, including melanoma. Here are just a few, from SunAWARE:

  • Exposure to tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 75%.
  • More than one million people visit tanning salons every day. Of these, approximately 71% are girls and young women aged 16-29.
  • Young women, under the age of 39, have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
  • Ninety percent of pediatric melanoma cases occur in girls aged 10-19.

What Can You Do Instead?

Through its Go With Your Own GlowTM campaign, the Skin Cancer Foundation promotes skipping the tan altogether – the best look for the prom, or any other time, is your own natural skin color. In case the allure of tan skin is still too great from prom-goers, the foundation also suggests sunless, or UV-free, tanners.

And, if you or someone you know is planning on bronzing up for prom courtesy of an indoor tanning booth, Coolibar has a book for you. Pretty Prom – Your Skin is Pretty Too by Mary Mills Barrow and Maryellen Maguire-Eisen provides a short, convincing account of what’s at stake in exchange for looking tan on prom night.

Coolibar offers Pretty Prom courtesy of SunAWARE. Stay safe, and Stay SunAware!

No Comments
Routinely Check Skin Wellness Warriors

A Love Story From the Road to Healthy Skin Tour

On its sixth year, the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Road to Healthy Skin Tour continues to travel across the country providing free skin checks to the public. This mobile tour kicks off in the New York City area in May for Skin Cancer Awareness Month and concludes end of August on the West Coast.  Since the tours inception, volunteer dermatologist have performed over 16,000 skin checks, detected nearly 7,000 suspected cancers and precancers and 295 possible melanomas. Tour Event Managers Christie Farhat and Chris Alvarez have traveled with the Tour for five years and four years respectively.  Together, they are making a difference in the fight against skin cancer.

In 2009, Christie was in Miami for a screening event and was having difficulty finding parking for the Tour RV. A gentleman, who was a hotel manager where she was staying, stepped forward to help her out. It was Chris and they’ve been together ever since! Chris joined the Tour team the next season and the two of them have been making a difference together around the country year after year.

This year, Christie and Chris wore Coolibar UPF 50+ clothing for their nation-wide tour. Having to set up each of the 50 events around the country themselves, durability is important. Comfort is also a priority since they drive long distances often. “Christie and Chris like Coolibar fabrics, find they wash well and are very easy to wear,” said Whitney Potter, Director of Special Projects at the SCF. Christie’s favorite item is the lightweight Water Jacket and Chris loves the Plaid Shirts! “They’ve both received a lot of compliments on their attire — mainly from the volunteer dermatologists who recognize the brand and appreciate its protection from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays,” said Potter. In the spirit of skin cancer prevention, “covering up” with Coolibar is key for Christie and Chris since they spend a lot of time outside in the summer sun during the Tour season.

For more information on the Road to Healthy Skin Tour, visit www.SkinCancer.org/Tour

No Comments
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons