Practice Safe Sun

You’ve heard me say it before and I will say it about a trillion more times in my life: Please for the love of life,

If anyone loves the sun, it’s me. I love it so much that I would never put myself into a tanning bed to get colour. I never have and I never will. I love the heat off the glorious sun’s UV rays, the energy it gives me, and of course, the freshly sun kissed glow it offers after a day on the beach.

Here’s the thing, if you aren’t wearing sunscreen, you are inviting skin cancer into your body. Just five sunburns at anytime of your life can double your odds of developing this deadly disease. Sunscreen? Yes, please!

This video may just be the best video I have ever seen to promote skin cancer awareness:

I have always been terrified of getting skin cancer. For this reason alone, I refused to go to a tanning bed. Even as a competitive dancer and cheerleader. You would find me in the self-tanner aisles of different drugstores scoping out for the best brand or looking into spray tanning. And then of course, I would get laughed at when the competitions were over and I went into a hot tub and the fake colour was now floating in the water and I was left pale.

At the beach, I would be the fair skin one who had to use SPF 50 if I didn’t want to develop a bad burn. But here’s the thing- everytime I did end up getting a burn, I will admit that I would say, “Ahh well, it will turn into a tan…” More like, “There’s another chance I will develop skin cancer.”

The second most common cancer in women age 20-29 is Melanoma. (AKA the deadliest skin cancer that you can be diagnosed with.) Basal-Cell Carcinoma and Squamous-Cell Carcinoma  (the two less lethal forms of skin cancer) have been diagnosed more than double the amount of times than the past generation of 20-30 somethings.

In March 2010, I was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma the size of a dime on my nose. It was terrifying. I took it in good humour when I got sent to a third doctor– a plastic surgeon. When you are 24 years old, a dermatologist will not remove the skin cancer off your fresh young face. So obviously, I called myself Heidi Montag and headed to see my new plastic surgeon Dr. Catherine Haywood. Of course, I researched all about this wonderful lady before getting my face cut up. Especially when I graduated from Theatre School and wanted to pursue an acting career and your face is what sells you. When I was told that my battle scar would be in a shape of a “B” from my eyebrow to the bottom of my nose so that the contour of my nose will stay the same, I almost vomited. 15 stitches and two day surgeries later, I am healthier than ever and constantly checking myself for any suspicious spots. I honestly couldn’t be happier with the scar on my nose. No one even notices it unless I tell them that it is there. The only difference between before and after my surgery is that now I wear foundation everyday to cover up the scar and the redness that will most likely never go away. Dr. Catherine Haywood just might be my favourite artist.

Sunscreen is now always with me. I have a small purse sized stick, Costco-sized sunscreen, sunscreen just for my face, and separate lotions for my body. My ever-growing sun-hat collection will soon be featured in a museum soon- I’m sure of it. And when I walk into Dr. Catherine Haywood’s office being so young, I still hear the older people saying that I could be there for a nose job. Awesome. But again, I laugh it off.

TIPS ON SELF-CHECKING FOR SKIN CANCER:

Stand next to a mirror in a well-lit room. Keep a hand mirror nearby so you can scan harder-to-view body regions, like your back and neck.
Start at the bottoms of your feet and work your way up your legs, torso, back, and arms, carefully examining any mole or mark.

ABCD is what you need to look for: Asymmetry (one side doesn’t match the other), a jagged Border, a non brown Color or different colors within one mark, and/or a Diameter larger than a quarter inch. 

Jot down a description of any spot, including its location and specific symptoms, so you’ll have the details you’ll need to tell your dermatologist. Keep an eye on this mark for 4 weeks. If it’s still there- make an appointment with your doctor and get a referral to see a dermatologist.  If the spot looks like it is getting better than it gets worse, and then it gets better again- get it checked out.  
                This is how my spot was living on my nose. 
Don’t forget your nails and your scalp, which you can see by aiming a blow-dryer so the air stream parts your hair.
HOW TO PROPERLY APPLY SUNSCREEN:
Step 1: Put the lotion on 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. This gives the sunscreen enough time to be absorbed into your skin and offer you ultimate protection.

Step 2: Squeeze out an ounce — the amount to almost fill a shot glass. That will keep an average-size adult protected. You don’t need to look like a frosted cupcake, you just need a thin layer of sunscreen.

Step 3: Apply it all over. Put it on while you’re completely naked so you get it everywhere. This way, when your swimsuit moves around, the skin that gets exposed is still protected. Make sure your legs and upper back are covered; melanoma most often strikes these body areas in women.

Step 4: Be gentle to your face. I have found that applying the same sunscreen that use on your body is too harsh for my face and it will start to sting. Especially when you wear sunscreen day in and day out like me. I would invest in a face lotion. You may have to experiment with different brands to find which is perfect for your skin type. I am a huge fan of CLINIQUE’S sun products.

Step 5: Reapply every hour if you are lazing around outside; every 30 minutes if you’re doing something active and making you get a good sweat on. This makes sunscreen less effective. If the label says it’s waterproof, you still need to re-apply!

Love the sun and stay safe friends!

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