The Changing Skin Cancer Lifestyle

I think about skin cancer all the time.

My skin cancer lifestyle

It now has become a lifestyle. It affects every part of my life. It affects what I wear, where I go, when I go, where I vacation, when I vacation, and often, who I am with. It affects my personal life, my hobbies, my work life.  It affects my relationships and most of all it affects my mental health. It is all-encompassing and a challenge to manage. Am I always up to it?

I am sure that we all have things that sort of govern the way we handle things. I now am a caregiver of a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. This also affects my decision-making in unexpected ways. Life starts out with one set of expectations and hopes and changes course and you have to course correct or things get really tough. Things used to be so simple.

Course corrections as time goes on

I find myself course-correcting all the time with regard to skin cancer. It seems the things I took for granted in 1990 changed by 2000 and so on. I used to think that spotting melanoma was very straightforward (changes in moles). I have come to understand that it can be more complex than that, highlighting the need for more self-checks and appointments. Things keep changing.

I used to think that simply applying sunscreen in some amount was good enough for all day protection. Now, I realize that different sunscreens have different formulas and that I need to reapply throughout the day based on factors like exercise (sweating) and being in the pool or lake. I had no idea that some sunscreens were mineral-based and blocked out sun rays while other sunscreens were more chemically-based and worked in other ways.

Changes in treatments and updated research

My understanding of diagnosis and treatment changes often as technology and research changes. This lifestyle used to be solely based on moderating behaviors (like sun exposure) and seemed almost like a math equation (Do this and you get that). Seemed simple. 

Now, this lifestyle involves THAT as well as trying to keep up with the latest understanding of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.  If it’s a math equation, it’s a complex one. It can be exhausting.

My melanoma diagnosis changed my lifestyle

As a California beachgoer for the first half of my life, my lifestyle was about ME actually. How could I look better, feel better, make more money, have cooler friends, and accomplish stuff? My melanoma diagnosis changed all that but not overnight. I gave up things a little at a time. I was not ready for the changes what would eventually come. 

I would ask things like, "How can I still tan and also not get melanoma again?"  Now, I ask myself, "What is everything that I can do to not get melanoma again?"

The lifestyle changed from how little can I do, to how much can I do.  It went from a little inconvenience to a holistic challenge to tackle.  I can only manage this with the support of my family and friends and this site.  Much has changed. 

How do you manage the ever-changing skin cancer lifestyle?

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