Want a healthy tan? Think again

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Hello Simply Fit readers. As you know, spring is here! The warmer temperatures have teased us with their presence for a few short days and then allowed winter to sneak back into the air. I'm confident that in a few short months, the brisk days and the bundled up nights will be far from my thoughts as I'm opening up the windows in my house to let the fresh air in.

With warmer weather coming, I feel compelled to remind people, especially teenagers about the dangers of skin cancer. Already I am seeing people working on their tans in anticipation of wearing tank tops and shorts. I admit that I love how the warm sun dancing on my skin makes me feel. It's as if I am being recharged with the sun's penetrating rays but I quickly need to remind myself that the sun's rays can be a potential killer in disguise.

I speak from experience because my sun worshiping youth and genetic predisposition has brought forward years of dermatologist appointments, countless skin biopsies with the scars to prove it, and the fear that my dermatologist and I won't catch the "big one" in time.

In the past 10 years I have been diagnosed with all three types of skin cancer which are:

• Basal-cell carcinoma - the most common type of skin cancer.

• Squamous-cell carcinoma - a malignant tumor of squamous epithelium.

• Melanoma - less common than other skin cancers, however, it is much more dangerous and causes the majority (75 percent) of deaths related to skin cancer

I was one of the very lucky ones. The spot on my right lateral leg was only the size of a pencil eraser but had a strange characteristic. It turned bright red when I applied self tanning lotion to it. This occurrence prompted me to visit my dermatologist who agreed to have it biopsied due to my past history with Basal cell and Squamous cell cancers. Turns out it was Melanoma, a diagnoses I never thought I would hear, especially in my mid-30s.

I ask all of you to practice good judgment when it comes to UV exposure. The key is not avoidance but moderation. There is no such thing as a healthy tan. In fact, the next time you see someone with "glowing skin" I want you to think of "damaged skin" because that is exactly what it is, damage. The largest organ your body has is the skin. Protect it, nourish it with a healthy diet, and please, please, please, look at it often for any signs of skin cancer.

I recommend that adults visit a dermatologist once a year. Yes, I know it's embarrassing. My dermatologist has seen every inch of my skin but to me, a little embarrassment is worth being able to see my children grow up.

You may have recently seen in the news that a new drug has been approved for the treatment of advanced Melanoma. It was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and is called Yervoy. This is not a cure but it certainly gives hope to those who have advanced Melanoma and have few, if any treatment options. Let's hope that this is just the beginning of many treatments and possibly cures for the treatment of melanoma and all cancers.

Peace!