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An enthusiastic sun pushes dark clouds away while women apply sunscreen on the beach

Clouds Hanging Over My Sunny Days?

A comment I hear frequently from people newly diagnosed with skin cancer is that they’re worried they’ll never be able to be in the sun again. And that seems to be one of the harder things for them to accept about having skin cancer.

You don’t have to avoid the sun completely

You will never hear me say, though, that people need to completely avoid the sun. While some people may find they need to avoid the sun at all costs, being diagnosed with skin cancer does not automatically sentence a person to living the life of a vampire. (This is a great discussion to have with your doctor on whether you should completely avoid the sun or if you can still be in it, with appropriate precautions.)

Beaches and clouds

A year ago I took a vacation to a resort in the Bahamas. It was January, I was going to have a week at the beach, and I was nervous because this would be my first “beach vacation” since a major skin cancer surgery. Fortunately, the sun wasn’t quite so strong in January and most of the days were fairly cloudy. My daughter wasn’t thrilled, but I was secretly relieved because I spent the trip worrying so much about getting a sunburn.

Beaches and the sun

I recently took my second beach vacation since the significant surgery. This would be a true test of my sun awareness skills, as we were going to Mexico during spring break. The forecast called for near 80 degree sunny days with zero percent chance of rain. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t say that a perfect sounding forecast wasn’t giving me some hesitation. My daughter was ecstatic about the thought of lying on the beach all day in the sun, while I was wondering how I was going to explain all the new skin cancer areas to my dermatologist at my next checkup in a couple of months.

It’s all about preparation

I was excited for our upcoming vacation, though, and I was determined to not be consumed by worry as I prepared for the trip. I may have gone a bit overboard with the amount of sunscreen I packed, as I found a note in my suitcase after we got there that TSA searched my bag and I have a feeling it was because of the sunscreen. I took with us Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 30 spray, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 45 Spray, Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 70 lotion, Hawaiian Tropic SPF 50 lotion, Neutrogena Clear Face SPF 55 lotion, Neutrogena Clear Face SPF 30 lotion, a chapstick with SPF in it, and a sunscreen stick of SPF 55 which is great for noses and foreheads.

Bring some hats!

I have a selection of several sun hats, but I chose a wide-brimmed hat for this trip because I knew it would provide more protection for my face and neck. I took larger sunglasses so more of my face would be protected. I also took a sun protective long-sleeved coverup, as well as a UPF 50+ sun blanket, which came in especially handy in the afternoon after we’d been out for awhile and I felt like my legs and feet may be getting too much sun.

Life’s a beach

We spent on average about 4 or 5 hours a day at the beach. I made sure to apply plenty of sunscreen before going to the beach. (I found that I did a better job of applying it if I applied it before I put on my swimsuit instead of after I had it on.) Each day, I chose loungers next to a beach umbrella. I spent the first half hour or so enjoying the sun, but after that I’d put on my hat. After about an hour or so in the sun, the umbrella went up. I reapplied sunscreen often throughout the day, and after a couple of hours on the lounger I usually covered up my legs with the sun blanket.

And you know what? I spent an entire week in Mexico, on the beach, loving every minute of the sunshine and waves and ocean breeze, and I never got a sunburn. Thanks to some planning ahead and being sun smart, nothing was clouding up my sunny days!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.