Well summer appears to be in full swing over here! Swim team has begun which means swim practice six days a week. Baseball league is halfway through which includes games and practices in locations with little to no shade. I must admit, when the heat started and I started to have to be outside daily due to my boys summer sports, I was feeling somewhat anxious and panicked inside. Every time I stepped out of my car into the blazing sun, even if just to run into the store, the school or the gym I felt a sense of anxiety as I felt the suns rays hitting me. In years past I used to enjoy that feeling I got when I walked outside on a hot, sunny day. Things have changed.
We live in the South, and I had to quickly remind myself that I can’t “hide” from the sun and even though I prefer to be warm then cold I was going to need to make some modifications to protect myself. Here are some things I have learned to do and that have become part of my daily routine, aside from the obvious of applying sunscreen to my entire body when I get out of the shower each morning!
- I always keep at least three sun hats in the car at any given time (I need to make sure I have a hat that coordinates with what I am wearing…LOL!). I have given up on the notion that the hat may mess up my hair…who cares! Hats are cute and protect me. I am embracing that.
- I keep a bag in my car that holds multiple sunscreens (for both me and my kids). I keep some UPF 50 sun sleeves, a UPF 50 long sleeve shrug and a long sleeve UPF 50 shirt in that bag as well. This way if I know I have to be outside for a prolonged period of time (even if it is cloudy or shaded) I know that I have something in my car that will protect me.
- I keep a large UPF 50 sun umbrella in my car for those days when I cant find shade.
Here are some of my favorite places to purchase these items:
Athleta….great for UPF 50 swimwear and clothing.
Coolibar…great for UPF 50 swimwear, hats, clothing and were I purchased my giant sun umbrella.
UVSkinz…great place for UPF swimwear and clothing
This summer I can always be found by looking for me in the shade, under an umbrella and a big hat. As one of my friends pointed out, I am the lady in the scuba suit at the pool…LOL!
I am happy to report that I had my first biopsy free Melanoma appointment in April. It was so amazing to walk out of there without stitches and the worry of waiting for biopsy results! It is hard to believe that I will be going back again, in less then one week but I am grateful to be on an every two month appointment schedule. If I had to go weekly to stay healthy and safe, I would!
Being diagnosed with Melanoma has certainly changed the way I think and my habits. I cringe when I see people with sunburns or dark tans, not because I am judging them but because I worry for them and know what can happen to them.
I try hard to use my voice and my experience to educate people on the dangers. I am currently working on doing online training to become a certified Melanoma Educator in hopes that I will be in the schools in the spring, helping to educate young people about the importance of sun safety. I learned the hard way that the damage I did to my skin twenty years ago is what is affecting my health today.
The biggest thing that has happened to me since being diagnosed with Melanoma is that I have come to realize that I am grateful for the journey that I have been taken on. I have learned to stop and smell and the roses. I have been taught to take care of myself, to enjoy my family, and take one day at a time. It has also given me new purpose and a new direction in life.
I recently joined forces with the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA). 100% of every donation to MRA goes directly to melanoma research. In 2014, MRA was ranked first out of the top 30 grant-giving disease foundations by Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN). Their ultimate goal is to find a cure by funding the most promising melanoma research worldwide that will accelerate progress and improve outcomes for patients and all who are at risk.
We have two exciting fundraising events in the works and I cannot wait to share more details soon!
Thank you to all of those who support me personally as well as my crusade to raise awareness and funds for Melanoma Research. I am humbled each and every day by peoples willingness to listen and to help in any way they can. I am grateful and truly blessed.
Much love and gratitude,