As promised, I’m bringing you guys some great posts from some amazing friends and bloggers while I’m away on vacation. This post is brought to you by my co-worker, Kate. Kate loves the healthy living blog world just as much as I do and is quite an inspiration herself. Thanks, Kate, for writing a guest blog in my absence!
The Skin You’re In
Most of the time, Athena introduces us all to yummy new recipes or motivates us all to get out there and get our fitness on! I am here to discuss another important, often overlooked, piece of healthy living – and that is skin health! Sounds glamorous and sexy? No? Well, unfortunately melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has now surpassed breast cancer as the #1 cancer for women between the ages of 25 and 32. Melanoma has become a young person’s disease.
Well on that happy note 🙂
I’m Kate Bedard. I’m a co-worker of Athena’s, and I am a stage 3 melanoma survivor. At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with melanoma a week after running my first half marathon. That was two years ago. I’ve had four surgeries and endured four months of immunotheraphy and can now happily report I am cancer free. My particular melanoma was on the back of my left calf and did spread to my lymph nodes. I’ve had a rough road the last two years but do consider myself one of the lucky ones.
I’m not really here to tell you my whole story but more to use my story to help motivate young women (and men!) to take care of their skin. Your skin is your largest organ. Would you rub SPF 8 on your liver and leave it out to bake in the sun all day? Probably not. Well, why would you do that to your skin! We all need to be more informed and more engaged in proper skin health:
The first and easiest thing you can do is wear sunscreen. Wear it all day, every day, make sure it’s at least SPF 30, and reapply! I know it’s a pain in the ass – believe me – I do it everyday too. But it’s one huge thing you can do to protect your skin.
Wear sunglasses and a hat when outside! Cute sunglasses are adorbs, and a big floppy hat while outside reading a good book on the beach is just too cute to pass up! But seriously if you are outside at the beach, at the farmer’s market, on a run, anywhere — wear a hat and sunglasses!
Do monthly skin checks. I’m sure many of you ladies out there do monthly breast checks. When you do that, add in a skin check. It takes less than five minutes. When you are doing a skin check, you want to check for the ABCDE’s of melanoma. A – is the mole asymetrical? B – is the border even? C – is the spot one color? D – is the diameter smaller than that of a pencil eraser? E – Has that mole evolved (changed)? If you are concerned about any of these, schedule a skin check with your dermatologist to have that mole checked out. I noticed my melanoma mostly because it had changed. I didn’t know about the ABCDE’s of melanoma then, but when I think back on it my mole met all the criteria.
This may be hard for some of you, but a tan is not a good thing. Any color, whether it be a tan or a sunburn, is baaaaad. UV exposure is known to cause skin cancer in the same way that smoking is known to cause lung cancer. It’s one of the few known, conclusive carcinogens that can be avoided when it comes to fighting cancer. Use that knowledge to protect yourself.
I hope my last piece of advice goes without saying, but stay away from the tanning booths. Nothing good can come from them. I used them – not a lot, but before the prom or a big event I definitely wanted to make sure I had a nice “healthy” glow. I’m not sure how much that had to do with my particular melanoma, but I know it didn’t help. Using a tanning bed even once increases your risk of melanoma by 75%.
Melanoma is not just skin cancer. It can kill you. Please be your own advocate and take care of your skin. I don’t want any of you out there to have to go through what I went through.
This video called “Dear 16 Year Old Me” does a great job in showing how melanoma can affect one’s life. Please take a moment to watch, it’s a great video!
If you are interested in learning more about melanoma, please visit http://www.melanoma.org/.
How do you all take care of your skin? What are your tips for skin health? Has anyone in your life been affected by melanoma?
Thanks for such an important reminder that skin cancer can occur at any age! I also wear sunscreen daily, sit in the shade at the beach, wear sunglasses and own some pretty large and floppy hats! I also see the dermatologist on a regular basis and anything remotely suspicious gets removed immediately. Also, sun can really ruin your complexion as you age leaving wrinkles and sunspots-ugh! It is a difficult process to correct sun damage when you are older. Thanks, Kate, for posting on a topic that is difficult to talk about and easy to ignore. Great post! In case you didn’t know, I am Athena’s mother, ask her about my beach hats!
Kate, thanks for sharing your story. Over the last year or so I’ve started to take better care of my skin. I stopped going to the tanning booth, I used to do it year round (ya, I know bad!). I also used to apply baby oil instead of sunscreen. I used to tell myself that it was okay because I was only going to be in the sun for a short period of time. I now wear sunscreen all the time (at least 15 SPF and 30 if I’m going to be in the sun for an extended period of time). Not only do I not want to get cancer but I also want my older self to look as young and vivacious as my current self. 🙂