Growing up as a fair, blonde-haired, blue-eyed child, my mom was always slathering sunscreen on me. Looking back at pictures from the beach and pool I am never without a hat, a hooded beach cover-up and sunglasses. My mom was ahead of the times in the late 80’s and early 90’s and shared the same habits that I have today as a mother. She was constantly aware of the dangers of the sun and making sure that I was always properly protected.
Fast forward to my teenage years, and like most teens during the late 90’s/early 2000’s I had found the tanning salon. I had the BEST teenage job and was able to spend my high school years working at a tanning and hair salon. Not only did I love my coworkers, I also had the best job perks, free tanning and hair services, what more could a young teenage girl want in 2000?!?! I would tan, bask in the sun (using tanning oil, instead of sunscreen) and thought nothing of it.
When I was 18 years old, I noticed a weird red mark on my left leg. Like an 18 year old kid, I ignored it. When I came home from college for the summer, my mom and younger sister immediately took notice of the mark and insisted that I do something about it. A few days shy of my 19th birthday I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma. Within a week I was at the University of Penn discussing surgery options with my new doctor, an Oncologist. My summer was spent recovering from my grueling surgery.
It is now as a mother that I really understand the seriousness of having Melanoma. I do not want to imagine the pain and fear that my own mother felt hearing those words uttered about her child. I remember her fear vividly and now I understand it and feel it myself about my own children. My own fair blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl already has me worried during these summer months. I follow my children around with sunscreen and insist on hats, beach cover-ups and shade whenever possible. When my kids ask me about the big scar on my leg they are told that it was from not protecting my skin from the sun properly when I was a teenager.
As moms, we are always making sure to protect our children with UV bathing suits, sunscreen and shade. Although often times we forget ourselves. Before you leave your house in the morning, put your sunscreen on first.
Protect your skin and know the facts about melanoma.
Did you know that….
One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 52 minutes).
An estimated 76,380 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016.
An estimated 10,130 people will die of melanoma in 2016.
Melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men, along with liver cancer and esophageal cancer.
The estimated 5-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 98 percent in the U.S. The survival rate falls to 63 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes, and 17 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.
On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.
Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.
More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,200 melanomas.
More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.
Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 67 percent increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29 percent increased risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.
Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 69 percent risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40.
Individuals who have used tanning beds 10 or more times in their lives have a 34 percent increased risk of developing melanoma compared to those who have never used tanning beds.
People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
*Facts from SkinCancer.org*