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Skin Cancer Aware

 

Are you skin cancer aware?   Do you wonder how to protect your skin from sunburn? How and when to use sunscreen? Are you aware of the necessity to wear sun blocking clothing?  What makes a shirt become sun blocking clothing?  

Will you make an adjustment in your skin protection program for the seasons or do you just think about it in the summertime?  That is usually when I am more aware of the need for skin protection.  However, after all the research I have done about how the sun damages our skin, my awareness has changed.

Know when you are endangering your health.  Is your health worth the risk in your love of a summertime tan?  This is important.  No, I don’t always pay attention, and I know you don’t either. 

Lack Of Awareness

To make matters worse, I didn’t even pay attention when faced with the reconstruction of a loved one’s nose.  For some reason that just didn’t connect that the same damage could happen to me.  We didn’t have the resources to research then, but I made no effort to improve my access to information.

I have no idea how much support I offered, but stupidity was playing a big role here.  How little I knew about CANCER, surely was not skin cancer aware. I didn’t know that skin cancer can take your life.  Everyone one I knew had overdone the sun at one point and had sunburned.

In My World

We lived in a sunny part of the world.  My Dad worked outside, he was a farmer.  My Mom hung clothes on a clothesline to dry.  She helped take care of the yard and helped Dad when he needed help.  So we all had a good start to spending time outside.

My parents did not spend their growing up years in front of a TV seeing young people enjoying the beach, sand, and sun as we did.  We may have lived in a small agriculture-based town and society, but we knew how the “lucky” kids lived on the coast! 

California and Flordia were big fantasy places to us.  Even before we knew there was a Disneyland and Disney World.  Yes, the miracles of Television!

Did television guide your dreams and ideas of how to take care of your skin?  No one wore their “sunbonnet” to the beach like my mom wore to help Dad in the field.  None of the kids wore the hats on the beach as Dad did to the field.  There were no long sleeve shirts on any beach in Flordia or California.  

Sunscreen

I didn’t grab sunscreen before heading to the public pool in our community.  Not many people got to go swimming there anyhow.Slom Cancer Is Serious

Everyone was at home working to make a living and everyone helped.  So those seemingly carefree movies and kids on the beaches were the stuff we dreamed happened in “the other part of the world.” The one outside our farm world.  Ideas of skin protection were changing

We soon adopted the approach we thought we saw on TV.  Not bothering to be concerned about the damage the sun could do to our skin. We were not yet skin cancer aware enough to know that TV seldom reflects reality.

 It may seem bigger than life on our big screens we all have today.  Even when our TV screens were 18″ we loved the world we were seeing.  We wanted the carefree world we saw.

As few of us could actually escape to California, we went on our merry way adapting our life to be what we thought was happening on those far away and exciting beaches.  If you lived in California, every day was sunny and a holiday.

If you lived in my central plains area where the cotton farming was happening, every day was sunny as well.  Every day may not have been a holiday, but I had enough free time growing up to sunburn more than once.

Of course, a bit of maturity taught us a bit more about the real world.  We didn’t lose our desire for being out in the sun.  We used our sunscreen sparingly.   Just laughed at hats and protecting our noses. 

Going our merry way, overexposing our skin to all sorts of sun damage.  Our freckles were permanent.  Lots of us had ears that were scaley and our shoulders had the lesions that are the forerunners of skin cancer.

Eyes Were Ignored

In our part of the world, most adults have or need cataract surgery by their late 60’s or early 70’s. We live and drive in the bright sunlight.  And we have many days of sunlight in our normal weather patterns.  Many of those hours are bright, hot, and definitely in the danger range if you have to be out in the direct sun. 

Our eyes try to protect themselves by growing a covering over the iris to protect itself. These are called cataracts.  Over many exposures.  While there are many contributing factors to cataracts developing, UV rays play a big part.

Are you aware of how to protect your eyes?  Do you remember your sunglasses?  Is there an extra pair in your vehicle?  By the back door to grab as you go out?  By the front door?  In the tote bag,  that you grab when you know there will be some waiting time involved? 

These are where I am backed up right now.  I know that cataract surgery is like a right to life passage for most seniors, but would like to delay a while if possible.

While thinking of the places where extra pairs of sunglasses tucked is a bit excessive, I am working on being aware.  This takes effort and me being more responsible.  If you don’t start early enough in your life to be sure of having protection for your eyes handy, get started. 

There is no doubt that this is more than one will need, but that is OK too.  Somewhere along the way maybe there will have developed the habit of keeping my eyes protected.

Small Steps To Improve

My next goal is to figure out a way to keep a hat handy for when I wander out into the yard.  Hopefully, keeping a fabric hat with a brim in my tote bag for waiting will work.  That bag goes with me in the car when I an headed anywhere but the grocery store.  That hat folds and while not expensive is very effective in protecting my nose from the sun. I know, baby steps to get to where I need to be.

As a teenager, I had started getting out in the sun much earlier than my Mom.  I had also discarded protective long sleeves Mom wore as a general rule in the sun.  The kids on TV didn’t wear long-sleeved shirts on the beach. They wore sun tops and swimsuits that had thin or no straps across the shoulders.  There was nothing to protect this often exposed part of our bodies. 

My sun exposure is a combination of teenage immaturity and wanting to live like we thought those kids did elsewhere.  Somewhere where every day was different from where we were.  Were your teenage years holding you responsible for some unwise decisions?  Mine were.  Glad they only lasted a short while.

How is your Skin Cancer Awareness?  Your skin protection needs?  Sunscreens and sun blocking clothing?  

By Sami

I want to be able to alert others to how the sun affects your skin. Awareness is the first step in learning how to protect ourselves from the sun and the skin cancer that often results.
Help your family get through life without skin cancer issues.

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