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Giving the Gift of Your Experience

Giving the Gift of Your Experience

The holidays are upon us again, and so is the urge to make sure family and friends are suppressing the urge to hate on their pale winter skin. I’ve been there… I was there for a couple decades or so. I know the frustration of looking at pasty arms and lily white legs with spring tanning sessions in the back of my mind. At some point during holiday gatherings, the conversation turns to vacations, plans for a spring break, and the hopes for a short and mild winter are almost tangible in the room as beach talk and summer plans are discussed in depth.

Not wanting loved ones to face skin cancer

When you have dealt repeatedly with skin cancer surgeries, topical treatments, and the fear and frustration of awaiting biopsy results, it becomes increasingly easy to speak up when that friend or family member starts to bemoan their rapidly fading summer glow. The only thing worse than living with skin cancer that you are pretty sure you helped accelerate is watching loved ones receive those same diagnoses and face the beast themselves. If there’s even a small chance your words can change minds, it’s worth speaking up, and the holidays are prime time for doing so.

Talking to loved ones about skin cancer

There are several ways you can approach the ones you love when you hear snippets of “pale this” and “pasty that“.

Share the details

First, don’t be shy about sharing that you have had skin cancer. Chances are your family and friends don’t know all the details of your diagnosis, and if they do know, they may have forgotten just how serious it is. Speak up. Share what scared you. Share with them the details that you might have been keeping to yourself.

Show your scars

Talk about your surgery and bust out the scars. Yes, I know, that isn’t always easy. Again, I have walked that road. I held back for years and tried to cover the scars from an excision and three Mohs surgeries. However, the older I have grown, the more willing I have become to draw attention to my scars. Skin cancer can require some extensive surgeries leaving lasting scars, and your loved ones who tan need to know that. Show them.

Swipe through some pictures of your experience

Got your phone handy? Those pictures you took documenting your journey with blue-light treatment or other topical treatments are about to become even more useful. Show your loved ones what you have had to do just to rid your skin of suspicious and precancerous lesions. Graphic? Yes. Effective? You bet.

Dish on sunscreen

Start talking sunscreen. When you have gotten their attention and steered them in the right direction and away from tanning talk, start singing the praises of your favorite and most effective sunscreens. Give them some brands to remember and offer to text them links to the best place to pick some up for use all year long.

Downplay the tan

Play up the health benefits of staying pale. Shunning tanning beds and avoiding sun exposure during peak hours should rate high on our list of priorities, and it is totally within in your right as a skin cancer survivor and concerned friend or family member to pass on that information.

The best gift you can give the cousin who swears by the benefits of spending time in the sun or the aunt who buys regular package deals at the local tanning salon is education. By this point in your life, you are that education. Your fears, your scars, and your experience are all tied up in one neat package to give to the ones you love. When talk turns to tanning, pull that gift out and don’t be shy about sharing it.

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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.