Melanoma...do you know how to protect yourself?

Hi there! My name is Donna, and I have Stage IV melanoma.  Nasty disease it is.  I've made it my goal since my diagnosis to do as much as I can to raise awareness and educate people.  I knew absolutely nothing about melanoma until I was diagnosed, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Through this blog, it is my plan to share tons of information that you can use to protect your skin (and the rest of you) from skin cancer of any kind, but especially melanoma.  I'll do everything I can to keep you out of my shoes.  Melanoma is classified as skin cancer, but it can go much deeper than the skin.  In fact, it can spread pretty much anywhere within the body.  While melanoma is the least diagnosed form of skin cancer, it causes the most deaths (approximately 9,480 people in the U.S. this year alone).

One of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself is to stay out of tanning beds.  Your risk of melanoma is increased by 75% if you use tanning beds before the age of 35.  Many people believe that tanning beds are safer than tanning in the sun because the UV rays are "controlled."  Not true.  Using a tanning bed exposes you to as much as 12 times the amount of UV radiation you would receive from the sun in a much shorter period of time.  The World Health Organization has actually classified the UV radiation from tanning beds as a human carcinogen, right up there with tobacco and plutonium.  Scary, right?  Here's another scary fact.  According to the National Cancer Institute, "Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old."

Aside from avoiding tanning beds, wearing sunscreen every...single...day is a good way to protect yourself.  Make sure the brand you choose says "Broad Spectrum" on the label to ensure that you're getting protection from UVA and UVB rays.  All sunscreens were recently required to revise their labeling.  NO sunscreen is waterproof.  Please be sure to follow instructions as to how often to reapply.  Also be sure that you're using enough.  Typically you need an ounce.

There are plenty of other things you can do too.  Avoid the sun during peak hours (10am and 2pm here in Chicago).  Wear long sleeves and a hat too.  You'll thank me when you're 50 and still have great looking skin...and don't have melanoma.

There are more facts here:  http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts

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