Thursday, September 4, 2008

Be Sun Smart

As I finish my yearly Dermatologist appointment to check for skin cancer, I am yet again filled with relief and nervousness. I am so relieved that I get a clean bill of health for one more year, no problems, no biopsies, nada!! However, underlying the relief is always a feeling of nervousness. What if the doctor made a mistake and overlooked something that could be cancer? I know that they are trained for this, but what if! I have yet to feel completely positive after a doctors appointment unless they cut or biopsy some part of my skin. I often wonder if I’m always going to feel this nagging uncertainty or if it goes away with time.

Now, you’re probably wondering why it the heck does she care so much! I care because I was diagnosed with melanoma 3 ½ years ago at the very young age of 31, and have personally known two other women with the same diagnosis and they were younger too.

Fortunately, all three of us caught the cancer in very early stages. For us, it was still just growing in the skin and had not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, but what if? Luckily we just had to have surgery to remove it but there are so many people out there not so lucky. Did you know that there are 8,420 deaths per year in the United States due to melanoma? And that UV radiation (aka sunlight and tanning beds) is the leading cause for developing skin cancer? Which means that it is in our control, for better or worse?

That brings me to one of my personal dilemmas, the desire to triathlons versus the time spent outdoors in order to train. This is a sport that puts us in the sun continuously. We all need to be aware of the potential dangers and take measure to protect against potentially life threatening damage. Please, wear your sunscreen, always. And reapply, often. Also, consider covering up more of your skin when training versus baring it all, especially if you’re in higher risk groups. Train early or late when the sun is not so strong. Don’t forget about your eyes and lips. Do regular self exams and it doesn't hurt to have a doctor look at your skin once in while. Be smart and safe out there so we can all continue to enjoy this sport :-). For more information,

If that’s not enough of a reason, sunlight also makes us old looking! I leave you with this picture, enjoy!!!


Borsch said...

That is a gross picture!

SWTrigal said...

As one who was a sun worshiper "back in the day" I can fully vouch for the fact that it causes sun damage to your face and wrinkles before your time (I have had to have this treated). Not only that, I now have all these "pre-cancerous" spots on my body that I need to have zapped every few months. I am SO glad you caught your melanoma early-thank goodness. I use Zinc Oxide on my face and SPF 50 on the rest of my body-always..thanks for the reminder though..

Calyx Meredith said...

I'm glad they caught yours early!! I'm such a fanatic about making sure my kids are slathered and twice this year I've forgotten to protect myself! Stupid, stupid, stupid head! I can definitely use reminders on why it's important.

Formulaic said...

Good post! We as athletes are always out there in the sun. It seems so rare that people actually care about suncare. It's slathered on once and that's about it.

cindy said...

I'm so glad you caught yours early!! Thanks for the reminder.

We used to lay out in the sun so much when I was younger - dumb. My kids got a couple of sunburns when they were little and I worry about that. I told them I'll be checking for spots behind their ears and stuff even when they are 40 because of my guilt!