Important Mom Advice: Wear Your Sunscreen, Kids!

May 18, 2018 2:32 pm Published by 1 Comment

What I started as a space to write about running and travel is rapidly turning into a health blog. This certainly was never my intention. I have spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices this past calendar year. No offense to my doctors, but there are many other things I would rather be doing. I had my fill of doctor visits during my six pregnancies.

Maybe it’s part of getting older. (I’m 48. I don’t think that’s too old, but some of my friends beg to differ).
Whether you consider me advanced in age or not, here is the lowdown on my latest medical adventure.

When it comes to my skin, I am picky and cautious. I do all the right things to prevent sun damage and skin cancer. Just a week ago, I found myself in my trusted dermatologist’s office to have a tiny, little white bump removed that was about a centimeter below my eye. My dermatologist reassured me it was probably nothing, but he would send it off to the lab for an official diagnosis. He asked that I call his office a week later to get the results. I think we were both confident it was something such as an overgrown sweat gland.

A few days later, as I was sitting in a parking lot, playing my voicemail messages, I suddenly jolted to attention. It was my dermatologist, calling me himself, asking me to return his call right away.

I knew what that meant.

We were both surprised when the diagnosis came back as basal cell carcinoma (a common form of skin cancer). How could this be? I am the runner who always wears a visor and sunscreen, even on the cloudiest of days. I am the nagging mother, preaching the importance of sunscreen to my children every chance I get. How did this happen to me? Mom o’ 6, the sunscreen nazi!

You see, even though I have been “good” the past 15 years, some damage cannot be undone. Most likely the damage occurred in my younger years — back when I wasn’t so careful. If I could turn back the clock, I would have never gone to a tanning bed or laid out (all things I did in my teenage years and 20s). I am now, preventing further damage by being liberal with my aerosol can of sunscreen. Knowing what I know now, I regret to say, my past fun in the sun days are creeping up on me. I can honestly state that the short-term sun kissed glow was not worth the damage.

The good news of this dermatological adventure is that I caught these unwanted cells in a very early stage. Basal cell carcinoma is localized. It only spreads within the area of origination, as opposed to the whole body. I will have to have treatment to kill off any other cancerous cells near the area where that little bump was located. But, according to my dermatologist, I was smart in being proactive – noticing that very small bump and taking action.

My loving husband also applauded my proactive behavior by sending me this photo of what my face would look like if I had let this cell (cells) spread. (He found a photo of an extreme case of basal cell carcinoma – which happens to be in the same area as mine.)

Thank you, Allen, for that vote of confidence! Seriously, this photo is really terrifying.

My point in sharing this medical adventure is to encourage everyone (especially my own kids) – no matter the age or stage of life – to protect themselves from the sun and harmful UV rays. I know this is no fun and takes work, but the effort is worth the long-term results.

Please, please wear your sunscreen! And that goes for everyone; young, old, or 48.

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This post was written by Michelle Walker

1 Comment

  • Dana Moreland says:

    Michelle is so very correct about protecting yourself and your loved ones from sun damage. Sunscreen, protective clothing, hats/visors, UV coating on glasses lenses – take all the steps to protect your skin.

    The damage I did in the first 20 years of my life has resulted in my having to have at several squamous cell cancers and numerous precancerous spots removed each year for the past 10 years.

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