Making Choices About Skin Cancer

Last updated: November 2022

When it comes to skin cancer, one word keeps coming to my mind and that is “choices.” I feel like I am always making choices when it comes to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of this disease. It goes like this.

Skin healthy choices

  • What should I wear today?
  • What sunscreen do I use today?
  • Do I need to reapply now?
  • Where should I vacation?
  • Should I do a skin check now?
  • Should I call the dermatologist about that bump?
  • Should I Google about that ‘thing’ on my skin?
  • ETC.

The questions never end

The decisions never end. Choices never end.

This is what is so exhausting about this disease called skin cancer. So much of it is wrapped up in everyday decision-making. It seems to affect every part of my life. It never really ends. It’s wearisome.

I need a plan

I need a plan when it comes to decision-making. My personality is such that I rarely act on hunches or instinct. According to my Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator, I am a high “S” or a “Sensor,” which means that when I make decisions, I am most comfortable with a lot of back story information.

I am not particularly intuitive. I like to research before I make a decision. This is true when it comes to dealing with skin cancer.

This means that I could get bogged down with so many choices. How do I deal with this? I have learned to off load much of this decision-making by simply developing a set of best practices that guide my behavior. For example, I always reapply sunscreen after two hours in the sun. I don’t think about it and consider all the options. I just have developed the habit of doing it.

My go-to decision options

As a rule, if I find something odd or different about my skin, I see the doctor. I don’t take a poll among my family and friends. I don’t flip a coin. I don’t agonize. I just go.

This is true for regular dermatology checkups. I see the doctor every six months and once it is on the calendar, I go. I don’t need to decide about this, the decision has been made. When it comes to vacations, I am not going to sun destinations like beaches. I don’t need to think about it.

This has been a process. They say that a thought becomes an action, that and action becomes a habit, and that habits become a lifestyle.

Listening to the best information

I have given these best practices a lot of thought and many have simply become my lifestyle. This means that where you get your information is critical to the process. If you believe bad information, then eventually you will lead a destructive lifestyle. It goes like this.

  • Someone in line at the pharmacy tells you that it’s not important to reapply sunscreen and you believe it.
  • You then make the choice to not bring sunscreen to the beach the next day after applying once at home.
  • You regularly leave the sunscreen at home and therefore you don’t reapply.
  • You never think about keeping sunscreen handy in your car. It never occurs to you.

The result is that SURE you get a little sun, but applying once is better than not applying sunscreen at all. You conclude that reapplying has little benefit and that logging the sunscreen around with you is really not worth the hassle. In this example it’s clear that where you get your information and the sources you believe are critically important. Hearsay, rumor and gossip are not good places. Health care sites are.

The bottom line is that you will always have options from which to choose, but getting the best information which guides those choices is key to a healthy, safe lifestyle.

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