My Best Beach Day Ever

I don’t go to the beach as much as I used to and I used to go a lot.  I was literally born across the street from Newport Beach and spent many a summer’s day playing in the sand, bodysurfing, searching for shells, and getting that perfect tan.  There were so many great things about the beach.  I loved the cookouts and social fun.  I didn’t like the sand and smashing my noggin into the coral reef and I hated those terrible sunburns.  I ended up paying for the price for my fun, though.

Paying the price

I paid the price by getting melanoma in 1988 and spending much of my life monitoring every part of my skin on a regular basis.  Would I trade my early beach experiences for what I have lost since?  Well, I will put it this way... I will never forget my Southern California beach life, but I sure wish I had been smarter about it.  Now, back to my story.

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Wearing and sharing the importance of sun protective gear

Last Friday, I was photographing a famous airshow at Jones Beach on Long Island.  It required me to be on the beach from 7:30am until the mid-afternoon.  I had to stand and point my camera and zoom lens into the sky for hours.  I was lathered in sunscreen.  I wore sun protective long sleeves, long pants and tennis shoes.  I had my ball cap on and my shirt had a lightweight hood that covered most of my head, including my ears.

I didn’t look much like a beach goer and I wasn’t.  I was a photographer and I didn’t feel uncomfortable by looking different.  As the morning wore on, people swarmed the beach.  Most were there for the sand, surf, and sun.  Some others were there to watch the jets and propeller planes do aerial acrobatics.  All seemed to be enjoying themselves as evidenced by the numerous sand castles.

Then, it happened.  A man approached me.  Many had come up to me to ask about my camera, but this gentleman was different.  He asked me about my sun protective clothing.  He wanted to know details about how effective they were and where he could get them.  He told me about what it’s like being fair-skinned and fearing skin cancer.  I gave him the information he was seeking and felt good about the interaction.

But that was not all.  A mother of three boys overhead the conversation and walked over.  She wanted to know if they made this type of sun protective clothing for children.  She was concerned about their sun exposure and said that reapplying sunscreen after every dip in the ocean was burdensome.  I looked up some Internet links online and forwarded them to her and she was on her way. As the planes dip loops overhead, I kept thinking about my day.  I did skin cancer advocacy by just showing up!  I didn’t need to go to our state capital.  I didn’t need to get on a soap box.  I didn’t need to pass out sun screen samples.  I just had to be there and be approachable.  I just had to be me.  My personal example was enough. It was my best beach day ever!

Well maybe not my best, but my best since 1988.

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