As you might have noticed, there is a JavaGirl logo on the left side of this blog that will take you to my CafePress store. Yep, I'm JavaGirl. I make a whopping $10 or $15 a month there if I'm having a good month, so it's not making me rich. But it is fun to come up with new ideas, slap them on some shirts and mugs and hope someone thinks they're fun, too.
My latest offering is this:
An assortment of items in 4 color variations of the "Pale is the New Tan" art which you can find here.
OK, enough with the sales pitch. Let's get to the reason behind the shirt. As you probably know, today is the official First Day of Summer. HOORAY! I love summer. It's quite brief around these parts, so I savor it while it lasts. I love to be outdoors, but that doesn't mean I bask in the sun. I prefer to view summer from a shady vantage point, and for good reason. Lots of good reasons, really.
In August of 1999, I went to the doctor because I'd finally called to make an appointment about the weird spot on my back. It had been there for a couple of years, probably, but I didn't think too much about it. Every now and then, I'd notice that it would bleed, but then it would scab over and I'd ignore it again. But that kept happening, and I couldn't keep ignoring it. So I made the call, and when I described the spot, I could tell by the reaction on the phone they were concerned.
They decided to remove the entire spot "just in case". Being the needle-phobe that I am, I wasn't looking forward to the whole procedure, but it went ok (aside from, you know, almost passing out) and 3 or 4 stitches later, I was out of the office and anxious to hear the results. They were pretty sure it was cancer.
And they were right. Basal cell carcinoma, to be precise. I was 27-years-old and diagnosed with skin cancer. Lucky for me, it's the most common and easily treatable of skin cancers. Basal cell is slow growing and rarely metastasizes unlike melanoma. Still, it's nothing to fool around with and I should have gone to the doctor years earlier.
Please. If you have a strange spot on your skin, go to the doctor. Have it checked out. It's absolutely better to be safe than sorry. You don't have to be super pale like me; everyone needs to be careful. And you don't have to be sun-worshipper to worry about it, either. I wasn't. Sure, I'd done the fake-n-bake and "laid out" a few times when I was a teenager. All of that adds up, but the real kickers are those times you weren't anticipating a problem and got a major burn. It happened to me a few times as a small child. I was so fair and would burn so quickly that my parents wouldn't get sunscreen on me in time. I'm NOT blaming them! They always did their best, but sometimes, the next thing they knew, we were out in the sun longer than anticipated, and oh, holy crap! We forgot to put sunscreen on Kelly.
See, the damage that turns into cancer doesn't just happen as adults. It builds over time, starting in childhood. I was diagnosed at 27 but that cancer had been there long before.
If you have kids, PLEASE slather them in sunscreen—every 2 hours and always after swimming. If you can, keep them—and you—in the shade when possible. You can absolutely still enjoy summer in the shade. Trust me. Plus you stay cooler, too.
You need to be diligent with your OWN skin, too. You don't wan't a leather chest, do you? I know you know what I'm talking about. We've all see the women that spend years and years in the sun and tanning beds in order to have a "healthy glow"... and end up with leathered skin. Any dermatologist will tell you the best anti-aging advice is to wear sunscreen.
|From The Skin Cancer Foundation's "Go With Your Own Glow" ad campaign.
Use moisturizer, body lotion and/or liquid makeup with SPF (PABA free is best for your face, especially if you have sensitive skin like I do). Use mineral makeup. It contains zinc oxide, a physical blocker. Sunscreen can be a chemical or physical blocker. Use both for the best protection. And always use a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. (Sunscreen can be confusing and the guidelines for labeling are set to change in 2012. You can read about it here.)
See how it says "waterproof"? I think that will have to go away in 2012.
NO sunscreen is waterproof.
So there you have it. I'm Pale and Proud. Remember, there's no such thing as a "healthy tan". Not from the sun, not from a tanning bed. If you want to have a bit of color or knock back the glare like I do with my legs, use a sunless tanner. They've come a long way, baby. They're about a hundred billion times better than they used to be back in the olden days, so find one you like and nix the tanning habit.
Wear sunscreen. The end.
Also? I'm not a doctor, so this is not intended as medical advice, just my 2 cents on the subject and my experience with skin cancer and sunscreen.
And also? Never let me get in front of the camera with a remote control. This is what happens.
HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE!