Posts Tagged ‘Skin Cancer Symptoms’

Here Comes the Sun…

Sunshine for am, Moondingo

Here comes the sun, do do do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

This Beatles gem makes me think of three things: our family waking up in the morning, what feels like a lot more sun and heat in Austin this week, and our wedding in late May five years ago.  I actually walked down the isle to this sunny song instead of the traditional “Here Comes the Bride.”

Summer time in Texas requires a bit of mental “gearing up” on my part.  Coming from Colorado where despite the increasing temperatures over the last several years thanks to global warming — you can still count on delightful, hike-bike-or-run-blissfully temperatures in the mornings and evenings.  Here, not so much.

As I was musing about the changing season and my need to get on top of slathering my girls with sun-screen and bug-spray every day for the next four or five months, I received an email from our family doctor encouraging patients to take part in a free skin cancer screening at Brackenridge Medical Center here in Austin.

I’ve had more sun exposure than most growing up in mile-high Colorado altitude and made a number of poor choices over the years when it came to sun protection. Growing up in the seventies and eighties — most of us worshipped the sun every summer and didn’t think about long-term risks. And a few of us dorks like myself wished for bronzed skin year-round as a teen. Remember that freak in junior high school that was obsessed with being tan and went to tanning beds all the time?  Yeah, that was me. I had a bizarre desire at the time to be — not Native American, which would make sense because we can actually trace Cherokee within my family tree, and not Latino — which might make sense based on the demographics of my home town — but Italian. Yep – Italian. So random. How could I have known that I’d end up married twenty years later to man with Sicilian roots and have a solidly Italian sounding last name?

I don’t know how many hours I spent at the local fake-n-bake when I was fourteen, but enough time to get more than my fair share of UV rays.

And though I didn’t keep count, I’d say I experienced at least three, maybe more, blistering burns on my face between middle school and my early twenties from not wearing enough sunscreen when skiing.

Reminiscing on all this, I jumped at the chance for a free skin screening.  I was impressed at the program and recommend everyone in Austin take advantage of it. Brackenridge and all the participating pro-bono dermatologists conduct the free screenings every year in early May.  I only waited in line for ten minutes.  The doctor that looked at me didn’t have the best bed-side manner around, but I decided you get what you pay for and didn’t worry about it.

He was letting me know that I did in fact have a number of dark colored moles on my stomach and back that I should keep an eye on for any changes.  He then took me through their hand-out flyer with pictures of melanoma moles and said, “Don’t be fooled by the size of the moles in this photograph. These are blown up to show the detail.  If you actually had a mole that was this big – you’d be DEAD. GONE. DONE.”

Um. Thanks dude. I got it. I’ll check my moles, OK?

Curious to know what to look for on your own body?  Great resource and pictures at:  The encouraging thing to know is that if you catch melanoma early, it’s generally 100% treatable.

Also, I was checking out the Environmental Working Group site and their research and recommendations for the safest sunscreens and discovered I was way off the mark in what I’ve been using and — darn it all — putting on my precious babies.  Turns out my thinking that Dr. Hauschka was safe and natural was W-R-O-N-G.  The EWG gives sunscreens a score from 0 – 10 for safety ranking.  0-2 being safest, 3-6 use caution, and 7-10 avoid.  Dr. Hauschka’s SPF 30 sunscreen cream for children and sensitive skin is scored at 5.  I think I’ll by-pass the “use caution” category and stick to the “safe” — thanks.  Solid waste of $30.00.

The four sunscreens with a “0” rating (that’s what we want Mamas!) were:

  • Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Badger Sunscreen Facestick, SPF 30 Unscented
  • Heiko Kids SPF 40,
  • ThinkBaby Sunscreen, SPF 30

To read the complete list and look up the sunscreen brand you already have, go here.

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