a woman floats in the ocean on a huge bottle of sunscreen and waves good bye to a sad cloud

Ditching Debbie Downer

We are officially almost through the summer and vacations of all shapes and sizes are in high gear. If you are a skin cancer survivor, you are inclined to look twice at vacation plans with friends and family. You are leery of trips that lead you to sunny destinations and boast of fun-filled, sun-soaked hours outdoors. Skin cancer will do that to a person. If you are like me, you have mixed feelings about planning trips-vacations are great, but being the Debbie Downer of the group is the pits.

Your plans aren't always shady

The desire to remain indoors or in shady spots doesn’t always mesh with the plans your children have at high noon on day one of your Florida vacation. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelming panic at the thought of standing in line for a ride at an amusement park under the scorching sun as you pray your sunscreen holds out. Feeling the heat beating down on your shoulders and stinging your cheeks as you browse flea market booths, you realize you should have suggested a later time in the day for shopping outdoors. It’s hard being that person-the person who feels obligated to operate around the sun’s schedule.

"I'm sorry. I can't go."

Skin cancer or the threat of recurrence can wreak havoc-if you allow it-on outdoor plans during peak hours of sunlight. It’s not always easy to say, “Hold on, guys. I need to reapply my sunscreen.” It’s certainly not enjoyable to glance out the window at a bright blue sky while weakly raising a hand in quiet objection to a 1:00 pm beach excursion. You’d likely rather do anything than utter those dreaded words, “I’m sorry. I can’t go.”

Tips for sun protection

Raining on everyone else’s parade doesn’t have to be your summer go-to. In fact, there are a few things you can do to avoid dragging everyone else down as you fight tooth and nail to avoid overexposure to the sun’s UV rays.

  1. Make everyone else a part of the sunscreen routine. After all, you are an advocate now for safe sun habits, and you definitely want to be a good example. When it’s time for you to reapply, it’s time for them to do it as well.
  2. Invest in a couple pieces of UPF clothing. These items provide a layer of protection between you and those rays in the event you are outdoors during peak hours.
  3. Provide your own shade when possible. Grab an umbrella or rent one on the beach so you, too, can enjoy your group’s beach adventure.
  4. Arm yourself with a list of alternate activities. Be ready with several activities in the area that you and your crew can enjoy during the hottest and most severe hours of sunlight. Find some options indoors everyone can enjoy. After all, the heat isn’t a friend to anyone, and chances are high they will be grateful some cool inside activities. The most important thing to remember here is to tell them up front when you plan to do the things they want to do. Everyone in your party needs to feel valued.
  5. Don’t shut yourself out. This is probably the most important of all. That being said, I will repeat myself. Do not, under any circumstances, shut yourself out of the family’s plans.

Go and have a blast

There are plenty of ways for you to enjoy a vacation in a sunny locale-it just takes a little planning, some smooth-talking, and a lot of sun-smart tools. Debbie Downer does not have to be a part of your group’s plans and neither does skin cancer. You better believe your people want you around and want to see you enjoy yourself as much as you want to see them have a blast. Plan a little more, and live it up!

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