Check yourself

We’re going to Texas in a week so the other day I went shopping for swimsuits for my kids. I also considered getting myself a UV-protected long sleeve shirt to wear poolside, but was annoyed at how expensive it was. But in the end I sucked it up and got it because I know my fair skin can’t handle the heat.

Then I came home and saw a bunch of people on Twitter grieving over the loss of a blogger who died that day of melanoma, leaving behind her husband and two young sons.

I didn’t know her, but I felt heartsick reading those comments, and grateful that I bought that damn shirt.

My sister had a melanoma removed several years ago, others in my family have had basal cell skin cancer, and a few years ago I had a funky pre-cancerous mole removed that required them to go back and take out more skin around it just to be safe.

I know I have those genes in me, so I don’t mind when at my annual skin check the dermatologist hacks off another mole or two. In fact I prefer it. It makes me feel like she’s doing her job right, and I get some odd satisfaction feeling like she caught another one before it turns into something worse.  My sister, bless her red-headed fair-skinned heart, has probably had more moles removed than most people have on their entire body.

My skin motto is, When in doubt, cut it out. I have 7 scars and counting.

Melanoma is in the back of my head enough that I felt compelled to write about it. I don’t have a point with this post other than to remind you to check your skin, and have a doctor do it for you too. The nice thing about melanoma is that it’s a cancer you actually have a chance of seeing and catching before it spreads.

And of course, cover up your flesh, and that of your loved ones. Let’s keep teaching our kids that it’s fashionable and chic to hide ourselves under long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats. The way I see it, the advantage of wearing a shirt at the pool is that I can eat a hot dog and fries with no worry whatsoever that someone will see my belly flopping over my swimsuit. In which case, I’ll have a strawberry shake and nachos too.

Dawn, the blogger who passed away, had a website with lots of useful melanoma links, including a video showing how to check your own skin. The video has bad music, naked people and a lot of mirrors, but I assure you it’s not porn.

This was originally the end of this post but then – then! – I happened to see a link to another post about melanoma and OMG it has this fabulous PSA video with a catchy jingle, so I’m going to leave you with that as my closing. Check yo’self!