A person's eyes peeking out from the shadow made by a large sunhat

My Dermatologist's Recommendations and My Attempts to Embrace Them

My most recent skin cancer issue was in February 2022. It was not the first time I had a run-in with skin cancer. My dermatologist treated the situation through excision surgery, and he recommended that I implement skin protective measures.

  • Specifically, my dermatologist recommended that I wear sunscreen on my entire body seven days a week.
  • I had skin cancer on my bottom lip in June 2018, so protecting my lips is always especially important.
  • My dermatologist also recommended that I wear a wide-brimmed sun hat whenever I am outdoors.
  • Finally, and most significant, my dermatologist recommended that I maintain “limited sun exposure.”

Restrictive recommendations?

I will readily admit that I am not a dermatologist and defer to their expertise, but it seemed to me that my dermatologist’s recommendations were a bit over-the-top. The recommendations also struck me as ultra-restrictive.

A sun hat every day. Really? Sunscreen seven days a week on my entire body? Ugh, that did not sound good. Limited sun exposure? Wow, that will be life-altering for sure.

I quickly decided that I had been sentenced to a highly restrictive life without the sun, and it did not sound good to me.

My dermatologist was restricting my life

To be totally honest, I had my nose out of joint and felt like my dermatologist was taking things a bit too far.

In the back of my mind, a little voice asked, “Is your dermatologist really taking things too far, or do you just feel like his recommendations put a hamper on your life?”

I never considered not following my dermatologist’s recommendations, but I did have a really bad attitude about them initially.

Maybe I should embrace the recommendations

After I internally raised some sand about my dermatologist’s recommendations for a few weeks, it hit me one day that perhaps there was another option available to me. I could always choose to work at embracing, but still hate, my dermatologist’s recommendations.

After that light bulb came on, I have worked to make my dermatologist’s recommendations more bearable by putting a different spin on the situation. Basically, I now work to embrace my dermatologist’s recommendations and accept the situation for what it is—a health issue that is essentially out of my control.

Hats are now a fashion statement

I have never been a hat person, and the dermatologist’s recommendation for me to wear a wide-brimmed sun hat on a daily basis did not hit me too well at first. Weeks later, however, I decided to order a variety of wide-brimmed sun hats. I got a cowboy style hat, a conservative hat, a very professional looking hat, and many others.

Now, I change up the sun hat that I am wearing based on my outfit and the occasion. It is both fun and fashionable. I still do not love that I have to wear a sun hat because it is all new to me, but I am learning to embrace my dermatologist’s recommendation to wear a sun hat.

After I accumulated quite a few sun hats, I decided that I needed a fun, unique way to store them at my house. After a lot of searching on the internet, I found a hat holder where the hats are prominently displayed on the wall almost like a piece of art. I hired a handy man to come out and hang up my hat display on the largest wall in my bedroom. It turned out great, and I have gotten a ton of compliments on my unique hat display.

Coloring my hair, not tan my skin

Last, recently I was at the hair salon, and I mentioned to my hair dresser that I feel like I am as pale as a chicken now that I am maintaining limited sun exposure. I explained to him that I feel like I look all washed-out because I have no color.

My hair dresser did not disagree with my assessment of the situation, but he suggested that I color my hair a bold—not crazy—color to give my face some new life. I was reluctant at first because I am not one to step outside the lines on hair color or much else for that matter.

I generally choose to be very conservative in my style and appearance, but it struck me that his idea was worth trying. Worst case scenario and it turned out horrible, I could always color it back to my natural hair color. I threw caution to the wind, and I colored my hair. My hair went from being a dark brunette naturally to being a burgundy-red. The new color gives my pale skin some life, and I have gotten the absolute most compliments on my new hair color. It is the new me!

Playing the hand I've been dealt

I am heart sick that my life has led to a skin cancer journey, but I have no choice but to play the cards I have been dealt and make the best of the situation.

I still hate the restriction

Although I still hate my dermatologist’s highly-restrictive recommendations, I have learned to live with and embrace those recommendations. I know that my dermatologist has my best interest at heart, and he is only recommending restrictions to help me avoid another skin cancer issue. And I am forever grateful for his help.

Has your dermatologist imposed a lot of restrictions on you in relation to your skin cancer? If so, have you attempted to embrace those restrictions? How?

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