Protecting Yourself from Skin Cancer

Growing up in Southern California, we spent a lot of time outside. We were either at the beach, pool, or park. The smell of the salty ocean brings back so many amazing memories. We would arrive at the beach in the morning. It was always cool and overcast at first. You would walk through the sand making your way towards the water looking for the perfect spot to set up. Once the sun broke through you spent the whole time in the water catching waves and swallowing a ton of salty water. The tide would take you away from where you started and the beach would be so packed I would always get lost finding my way back to my parents. Did they even notice I was missing? Haha! You would then sit down on your towel and have an amazing sandwich that always had sand in it, chips, taffy cookies, and cold soda wrapped in tinfoil. You would try your best to fight off the seagulls that would do anything to get a taste of your yummy lunch. Once you allowed your food to rest in your belly for 30 minutes it was safe for you to head back into the water. At the end of the day, you would pack everything up and try and walk back to the car without burning your feet. You couldn’t wear your flip-flops because they would flip sand on everyone you walked by and people would be annoyed with you…because who wants sand on them at the beach? So, you would have to take a few steps then stand on your towel for a minute to stop the burning over and over again until you made it to your destination. There is a reason my feet can withstand anything at this point in my life. I could probably walk over coals and be just fine.

I love the sun! I don’t recall ever wearing sunscreen. My olive skin just soaked up those rays and I had the best tan around. When I moved to Northern California as a teenager I remember showing my friends the best way to get a tan. We would lay out by the pool, with some “Sun In” in our hair, and when they would want to go swimming I would share the rule of laying on each side for 20 minutes first so you can get the perfect overall tan.

Not much has changed as an adult. As everyone is lathering on their 100spf sunscreen, I was making sure each side of my body was equally tan. I knew how dangerous the sun could be but I thought if God gave me this easily tannable skin I must not be susceptible to skin cancer. I know, I tend to live in denial sometimes. The only thing the sun did for me was turn my once adorable freckles into big, ugly age spots…but makeup could cover that.

I was awoken from my fantasy world this past year when I discovered a pimple-like bump on my leg. I didn’t think anything of it until it just wouldn’t go away. I reached out to my doctor and they referred me to a dermatologist. When I met with the doctor he did not feel it was cancerous but we decided to cut it out and send it to the lab to confirm. I was given a band-aid and told to continue on with my life. Then I received the phone call. “Mrs. Sanchez, it looks like I was mistaken. The lab is showing that you do have skin cancer.” Thankfully, it was not serious. I had to go back and get more tissue removed but was reassured they got it all.

I now have scars on both of my legs. My left leg scar reminds me of the amazing time I had swimming in the ocean at Malibu and a huge wave threw me onto a rock causing my knee to split open. My right leg scar reminds me that we are all susceptible to skin cancer.

As summer nears and we head out to the beach and pool, please remember to cover up that skin. Over 90% of skin cancer comes from overexposure to UV radiation. This can come from the sun as well as tanning beds. UV rays damage your skin cells, which over time can cause skin cancer.

Being outside is good for the soul. If you are responsible and cover up, you will still get the benefits of the beautiful outdoors without the sun damaging your skin. I will be investing in some sunscreen as well as a self-tanner this summer!

4 thoughts on “Protecting Yourself from Skin Cancer

  1. I remember so well those wonderful days at the beach!! I still have the same feeling towards it, except I have to spend a good portion of my time there under an umbrella!!! I am one huge freckle and mole!!😬 Your writing this morning of the beach makes me want to head down there today!!! With my high count sun tan lotion of course!!! By the way you look so amazing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great picture of you at the beach both as little girl and GORGEOUS adult!! I love your story I could imagine you guys staying there all day! Thank you for sharing your wisdom on the dangers of skin cancer. I personally do not have your amazing Swedish skin. My Latin skin from Spain just burns as you would tan even with baby SPF 100*. Great blog and story. I too want to head the beach sit with my taffy cookie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why do we always end up with sand in our sandwich??
    The aluminum foil trick brought back memories did that work or was it 1970’s.old wives tales Along with the old wives tale you must wait 30 minutes or your tummy will cramp and will die??
    Great blog great story with good advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have very fond memories of going to the beach. We did not use sunscreen when I was a kid and I do not remember being concerned about it when you and your sister were kids. I have been fortunate to not have skin cancer yet but it would not surprise me if I got it. Now I go to the beach wearing sunscreen and a hat! There is another good reason to wear sunscreen and that is because the sun is very aging to the skin. 😉


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