I’ve been wanting to write a post about skin protection for runners because melanoma is the one cancer we are more vulnerable to getting. But I kept putting it off.
And then this happened to me. I knew it was a message I needed to share with all of you–with over 65,000 Facebook readers–even if I convince just one of you to follow through with what I’m about to share–it is worth taking the time to write this post.
Last Friday I went to the dermatologist for a refill. We decided to do the full body exam since I have lots of moles and I run outside—a lot.
One was removed so we wouldn’t have to worry about monitoring it, and this tiny little freckle on my hand made my doctor look, look again and ask lots of questions. I left with pieces of me missing because she suspected the one on my palm was cancer.
My three year old was with me during all of this because I didn’t expect any of it to happen. So his curious eyes and questions during the whole thing made me hold it together. This morning I broke down with a group of dear women and they prayed for me. Loved me. And surrounded me with support. I’m so thankful God placed them in my life. Today I finally got a call that my very suspicious spot is benign. I know not everyone has this outcome and I don’t take any moment for granted–especially as a mom of 4 children who I live for.
As runners, there are things we can do to protect ourselves:
- Use a generous amount of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, even on cloudy days — cloud cover only blocks out one type of UV rays. Reapply often, especially if you are sweating–I carry a small tube in my SPIbelt for my runs that go on longer than one hour so that I can reapply. Use a water-resistant sunscreen that will stay on when you sweat.
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are the strongest. If you want to go for a run outside, try to do it early in the morning or right before sunset.
- Put on some sunglasses with high UV absorption to protect your eyes, and a hat to protect your face.
- Wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you cannot see through. Try to avoid regularly exposing areas of your body such as your shoulders, neck and chest. To prevent overheating, wear light-colored clothing that reflects the sun’s rays.
- Look for shade–I often cross the street multiple times, dependent upon which side has the most shade to run in. If I can avoid running in direct sunlight by doing a shaded trail run, I always opt for that route in the summer.
- Know the ABCDE’s of melanoma (Assymetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving)
Make sure to regularly check your body for any new moles or scaly patches. If they change size, form or color, visit a dermatologist. If you have skin cancer in your family, you may want to talk with your dermatologist about coming in more than once a year. If you run a lot outside and have lots of moles, your dermatologist may recommend that you come in once a year for full body checks.
I’m writing this in the hopes that you please make an appointment to get your base line body check. Wear sunscreen (I do but even when we do we aren’t immune) and teach your children the importance of sun safety, skin protection, and self care. Please remember both sun burns and tans are a sign of skin damage–and there is no such thing as a little ‘healthy tan’.
We always apply sunscreen when heading out for a run–even my girls who do a quick 1 miler.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Please consider sharing this post to spread the word <3.
Never Give Up,