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A man on a beach carrying sunscreen looking at two people sunbathing.

Warning Others About Skin Cancer

You are walking by your favorite beach or at the public pool. You are lathered up in your favorite sunscreen complete with wide-brimmed hat and spf50 clothing. You see people laying out in the sun and there doesn’t seem to be a bottle of sunscreen around them and it’s obvious they are burning.

How does it make you feel?

Responding to others burning in the sun

Recently a similar question was posed on the Skincancer.net Facebook page. There have been a variety of responses. Some folks are sad that they no longer can enjoy the sun as they have in the past. Some people cringe at the thought. Others struggle with wanting to say something and it makes them feel uncomfortable. Some just lather up and lay out and enjoy the experience with no particular feelings about it.

To say something or stay quiet

Interestingly, others do not respond directly about how this makes them feel but rather express that laying out is everyone’s individual choice and they don’t want to come across as judging by commenting.

A lot assume that others are aware of the risks and any warning would also be unwarranted and could lead to conflict.

I found all this very interesting. It has led me to some other questions. Beyond my personal feelings about tanning, I wonder at what point should I or would I want to say something to someone about my thoughts on the dangers of tanning and burning. When would I want to warn someone about the dangers of sun exposure?

It's not a simple answer. I know for sure that if I saw someone with what appeared to be a skin cancer on them, I would say something and recommend seeing a dermatologist. This is how I discovered my melanoma.

I'd try to start a conversation

But what about just regular folks laying out and burning? What might I do?

Here are my thoughts. At the very least, I would offer someone sunscreen, if it appeared that they didn’t have any and I had extra. This seems to be a low risk, community friendly approach. I probably would not be preachy or be showing off my skin cancer scars in the hopes that my offer would communicate enough. Is this approach, weak? Not sure, but I think it be received well enough.

I think if this led to a conversation or if I felt someone would be open to more of my thoughts, then I would consider telling them about skincancer.net and sharing my experience. I would be a good listener and be less of a teller than a sensitive educator about the disease. My goal would never be to turn others off or come off as an expert but to show care and concern.

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I assume most people are unaware of the risks

I don’t assume that people know much about skin cancer. So many don’t understand it or its dangers. So, many belittle it and I think this puts them at risk. In the end I was to be caring so that others will consider their own skin care regimen and do the safest things. I may not always be right but I do have personal experience with this and want to help others, if I can.

I would probably be more assertive, if I saw children laying out unattended and without sunscreen. I wish others had warned me about this is my youth. I may have ignored it, but at least I would have been able to make a more informed decision. I would probably recall those warning later on in life and it may have changed my behaviors, maybe not.

I would want all of this to come from a good place within me. I don’t want to be motivated by frustration or anger, but by care and concern and would hope this would come across to others. What are your thoughts?

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