As the weather grows warmer, and we head outdoors to enjoy more activities such as walking, cycling, running, and swimming, all while social/physical distancing of course, I wanted to send along some sun safety tips that you can share with your loved ones. Skin cancer awareness is vital for all ages, and simple, practical, prevention steps should become part of your daily routine.
Growing up in a beach town on Long Island, NY, I spent the first few years of my life, plopped in the sand of the many beaches and state parks. I can't recall ever wearing sunscreen during those years. My brother and I were always swimming and exploring nature. This was before the advent of cell phones and gaming systems, and our childhoods reflected that in our daily outdoor life. My love for the outdoors remained strong throughout my life.
A few years ago, after returning home from a trip to Bermuda, I went to see my dermatologist for a regular skin check. It was during that visit to the dermatologist that I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of my left leg. Since this diagnosis, I have been blessed by God to be followed closely by a wonderful team of skin cancer specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, in Basking Ridge, NJ. The skin cancer center in Basking Ridge is a wonderful resource if you are looking for exceptional skin cancer care.
Wearing sunscreen, hats, cover-ups and long sleeves has become an important part of our daily routine, both for myself, and for my family. The American Cancer Society recommends getting screened for skin cancer every 12 months. So many people I speak with as a parish nurse are diligent about going for their necessary health screenings, yet often when I ask about their skin checks, they admit that this particular screening they sometimes forgo. Here are some statistics that I pray will help you to always wear your sunscreen and hats, and always go for your annual skin checks:
"Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent." (The Skin Cancer Foundation)
Knowing the ABCDE's of skin cancer can also help you to do monthly self checks of your skin. Qualities to look for:
A~ Asymmetry - One half of the mole doesn't match the other half
B~ Borders - Irregular borders
C~ Colors - Color that is not uniform
D~ Diameter - Diameter greater than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)
E~ Evolving - Changes in size, shape, color, or bleeding or itching of a mole
God bless your summer!
In His service,
Colleen Bottcher RN, BSN, FCN
NJ District LCMS Parish Nurse
Our Savior Lutheran Church
22-15 Broadway, Fair Lawn, NJ