Last time for what you ask? I’m talking about a skin check! We all know how harmful the sun can be and I often talk here on the blog on the importance of wearing sunscreen. Granted, most of the time I talk about it because of vanity reasons like preventing wrinkles, crows feet, sun spots… you get the drift. Today, however I want to bring attention to something so much more important than all those things and that’s skin cancer. Since I’m someone who’s prone to moles I’ve been going to the dermatologist for several years to get my skin checked yearly.
This is very near and dear to me because I’ve known several people over the years that have been affected by this. Luckily, with surgery some were able to catch it in time and have it removed or get treatment. As hard as that was for them the outcome could’ve been much worse. Worse meaning lose their life. This week I lost one of my co-workers to melanoma. I’m still in shock and saddened over the news and can’t help but wonder how this could’ve been prevented or caught earlier?
So what is melanoma? Taken from Melanoma.org…..Melanoma is usually, but not always, a cancer of the skin. It begins in melanocytes – the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair and eyes. Melanocytes also form moles, where melanoma often develops. Having moles can be a risk factor for melanoma, but it’s important to remember that most moles do not become melanoma. Unlike other cancers, melanoma can often be seen on the skin, making it easier to detect in its early stages. If left undetected, however, melanoma can spread to distant sites or distant organs. Once melanoma has spread to other parts of the body (known as stage IV), it is referred to as metastatic melanoma, and is very difficult to treat. In its later stages, melanoma most commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, bones and brain; at this point, the prognosis is very poor. Research suggests that approximately 90% of melanoma cases can be linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural or artificial sources, such as sunlight and indoor tanning beds.
Most of us have gotten our fair share of sun damage from back in the day when there wasn’t a ton of info out there on the harmful effects. I can still look back on many times I consciously didn’t apply sunscreen because I wanted to be a bronzed goddess (ha!) I would actually say….yes I burn first but then it turns into a nice tan (what?!?) Never mind that I actually worked in a tanning salon! Believe me I LOVE the sun and getting my vitamin D but now that I know how harmful it can be I’ve become much more diligent with applying my sunscreen or limiting my time in the sun (the shade is your friend). If not for ourselves, we owe it to our kids to protect and teach them.
Now that summer is behind us there is no better time than now to make an appt with your doctor to get your skin checked. In the meantime, here’s a checklist of things you can look out for.
Always listen to your gut and if something doesn’t look or feel right then have it checked out. It could be nothing but better safe than sorry.
Hope you all have a great weekend!