A bottle of spray tan sits unused in a dark bathroom as a woman walks away.

With Age Comes Wisdom About Skin Cancer

As I was getting ready for work the other day, I glanced at a bottle of lotion that was sitting on the countertop in my bathroom. It was a bottle of moisturizer that is supposed to gradually tint your skin to look like you have a tan. I had purchased it in the spring, when I was thinking about the warmer days ahead but knowing that lying in the sun for hours wouldn’t be on my agenda.

Maybe I don't want to look tan

Funny thing, though. We're now headed towards the end of September. Labor Day weekend has come and gone, marking the unofficial end of summer, and I have yet to open the bottle of lotion. And that realization made me feel kind of proud. I remembered how, for far too many years, I felt like I had to have a tan to look good (or in my instance, it was more of a sunburn since I never really tanned). I remembered the hours upon hours of lying in the sun at the beach, or by a pool, or in my back yard.

I made it

What a long way I’ve come since then. I realized I just made it through an entire summer without feeling the need to look tan. I wore shorts (in public!) without worrying about my pale legs showing. I didn’t have a need for the tinted moisturizer, nor did I ever feel the need to lay in the sun for hours at a time.

I wish I'd known then what I know now

And I was happy to realize that, the older I have gotten, the wiser I have gotten about taking better care of my skin. Oh how I wish I had that knowledge when I was younger. I could have saved myself from the numerous areas of skin cancer I have had over the last 25+ years. I could have saved myself from having the numerous surgeries and procedures after being diagnosed with yet another skin cancer area. I could have saved myself the thousands and thousands of dollars I have paid in medical bills for skin cancer surgeries and procedures. I could have saved myself a lot of stress and anxiety.

I had no idea what I was doing to myself

What I didn’t realize when I was younger was how much damage can be done by over-exposure to the sun. It was something I honestly never thought about when I was a kid. And as I was growing up, I didn’t think that my time in the sun (and later in tanning beds) would be the reason for my skin cancer diagnosis in my late 20’s. I didn’t even consider that my days spent lounging by a pool or in the backyard would lead to my being a skin cancer patient for the rest of my life.

With age comes wisdom

Thankfully I am now wiser. Much wiser. I can’t undo the damage I did to my skin when I was younger, unfortunately, but I can make sure that from here on out, I do what is necessary to protect my skin from sunburn and from over-exposure to the sun. I encourage you to do the same. Your skin will thank you!

What do you wish your younger self knew about skin cancer?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

When was your last skin check?