Today, May 31st, the last day of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I find myself reflecting on some really DUMB things I did to my skin in college. There was one spring break when I wanted to go back to school with a tan just so the other kids would think I went somewhere…like, to the beach. I was stuck inland, how the heck was I going to accomplish that illusion?!
Crisco! They apply it to chicken before baking, so doesn’t it stand to reason that it could “bake” HUMAN skin, too?! So there I was, in my bikini, in my backyard, in the relative cold, sunning myself with Crisco all over my body! At this point in my life, I can’t recall if I did that for only one day, or several, or ALL days of my spring break. Nevertheless, “STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!”
Oh, it Gets Even Dumber!
As if Crisco wasn’t enough abuse for my skin, there was the one summer that I decided I didn’t want tan lines! I was a lifeguard, so on one of my days off I “brilliantly” (Duh!) decided to sunbathe topless in order to “erase” my bathing suit lines. I “intelligently” (double Duh!) decided that, since “that” skin had never seen the light of day, it would need a little extra help. What was that “help”? Baby oil! I slathered on that baby oil as if my life depended on it! And I sunned myself alllllll day in that searing heat!
You can probably guess what happened! I burned. Badly. In retrospect it probably warranted a trip to the doctor, but I was no stranger to sunburns; par for the course; didn’t even cross my know-it-all-college-kid mind that I might need medical care.
I was so burned that it hurt to bend at the waist; to sit down I had to kind-of fall backward into the seat, pregnant-woman style! Then, as my poor abused skin tried to heal itself, it cracked into thousands of little crusty scabs. At the time I thought it looked like snake skin. I can’t even find a picture on the Internet to share with you what it looked like, must be that rare a phenomenon! Here’s a photo from the Willcox Playa; my whole torso looked much like this!
My Wake-up Call
I was 21-years-old, it was Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and I was in the car with my family heading to the lake for the long weekend as we did every Memorial Day weekend. To entertain myself during the 4-hour drive I read a “National Enquirer”. There, I read a lengthy article by Bo Derek, star of the box-office hit, “10”, which, though I was young when it was released, I recalled quite clearly. In the article she shared how she, too, abused her skin with careless sun care when she was young, and how at her age when she wrote that article she had blue lines in her face from all the sun damage!
Bo Derek was about my age when she made “10”, it felt like it was “just yesterday”, and now she had blue lines in her face?! I was on the same trajectory; that meant that I would have blue lines in my face “tomorrow”!!!
I Did a 180
I’d had an epiphany! My sun care habits changed right then-and-there. So instead of lathering on the sun tanning oil and basking in the sun all weekend as I’d initially planned, I covered up and wore sunscreen! And I’ve been doing it ever since! I can’t tell you how good it feels to go to bed and not be so burned that even the sheets hurt to the touch! And the peeling skin is a thing of the past! Ewwww, how gross is that? <shiver>
Not out of the Woods
Dermatologists warn that melanoma can appear years after a bad sunburn. Swell; I’m a ticking time bomb. So I’m really quite good (OCD, maybe?!) about checking, and following-up, on my skin, as well as getting annual skin checks by a Physician. One time I found an anomaly on my own; one other time a Dermatologist found one during a skin check; both were biopsied, and both were benign. Whew! Been dodging bullets so far!
Check Your Skin
Do you know the “A-B-C-D-E” of Skin Cancer?
A = Asymmetry
B = Border
C = Color
D = Diameter
E = Evolving
A, asymmetrical, rather than uniform, mole shape
B, ill-defined, rather than crisp and clear, mole border
C, multi-color, rather than single color, mole
D, mole larger than a pencil diameter
E, moles that evolve in appearance
I don’t offer skin checks for my clients, I’m simply not qualified, but if I see any of these through your bodysuit during your Endermologie cellulite treatment, I’ll speak up. Most of the time you ladies tell me that you’ve already had it checked out. Kudos to you for staying on top of it! One time, though, my client was unaware of an anomaly that I pointed out and she had it checked. It was nothing, but while she was at the doctor’s office, a different health issue was identified and treated early!
Friends Who Have Had Melanoma
A hiking friend once had a melanoma removed from his scalp. Now he has a dollar-size bald spot on his head! It never dawned on me that hair would stop growing after skin removal! My friend takes it in stride, and just wears a hat everywhere he goes. But let that be a cautionary tale to you girls who think, “Eh, I’m not going to change my habits. If I ever get Skin Cancer I’ll just have it removed.” If you think your rich, golden tan will look better than that bald spot on your head, it’s up to you!
Another friend ignored a mole on his shoulder for too long. By the time it was removed, melanoma had entered his bones. He died shortly thereafter.
A Classic Example
Did you ever see this one? They said this discovery was like a kid on Christmas morning to the Dermatology practice when this man presented. He was a trucker for 30-some years, and, like most of us, didn’t wear sunscreen to just ride in a vehicle. What a profound example of the power of the sun! Left side sun damaged; right side, only natural aging!
Remember “Tanning Mom”?
She entered our consciousness 10 years ago after being charged with “child endangerment” for allegedly bringing her underage daughter to a tanning booth. She was immediately skewered in the court of public opinion, being mercilessly ridiculed, and nicknamed “tanorexic”. Many tanning salons in her state banned her after this news broke; her regular tanning salon was even fined for not cutting her off long before.
I sure hope she’s keeping on top of her skin checks!
I’ll Get off My Soapbox for Another Year Now!
Skin Cancer Awareness Month may end tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean we can be lax about sun safety the other 11 months. Summer’s here. Take care of your skin, so it can take care of you!
Expert Certified Endermologie Practitioner