Here comes the Sun!

Posted by: | June 30, 2011

Summer is finally here and despite the questionable conditions outside at the moment, along with summer comes sun and with sun comes UVA and UVB exposure.  I will admit that I have been, and will always be, a dedicated sun worshipper.  Nothing warms this Leo’s heart more than stretching out under the sun’s rays and basking in its glow and for me, the glow it creates on my skin has been less of an added bonus and more of a purposeful end result.  Time and time again I would disregard my mother’s instructions to “make sure you wear sunscreen, and re-apply”  and I would proudly arrived back at school each September ready to show of the fruits of my summer labour-much of which was the result of irresponsible burns.

Last year, I travelled through India and spent a significant amount of time on the beaches of Goa; if you have ever seen pictures, you know this was not a hard task to accomplish.  Not wanting to get burnt while travelling, and living in a beach shack with little ventilation and limited access to Aloe Vera, I made sure to buy SPF 50 and reapplied every two hours.    Two months later, I arrived home barely recognizable because I had become so dark.  Though I had managed to get a great tan, avoided getting burned and was receiving constant complements on how great it looked, I started to think about the power of the sun and what was actually happening within my cells to create such a look.  It made me sick to my stomach.  I love a tan as much as the next person but I would rather lather up now if it means I will stay alive later.  I realize that some damage may already be done from many of the burns I incurred throughout my teenage years, but I am now actively working to ensure that the largest organ in my body stays healthy.

This decision was further re-enforced last week when I heard Kathy Barnard and her son speak at a Healthy UBC Lunch and Learn.  Kathy is the founder of the Save Your Skin Foundation and a three time melanoma survivor who, on multiple occasions, was told by doctors that she had less than 6 months to live.  Melanoma is currently the most diagnosed form of cancer in Canada and is the only kind that is 100% preventable, yet parents continue to allow their children to play in the park without sun screen or a hat and high school grads lining up by the dozens at tanning salons is deemed acceptable.  Kathy’s message was simple: do not wait to think about this type of cancer until it is too late.  Melanoma means almost certain death and Kathy considers her survival a miracle.  I found her presentation moving and inspiring as she talked about the toll that her battle had taken on her family and how they joined together to start a foundation to raise awareness, educate and advocate for others.  After reading through this article I would like to re-phrase my original statement: I used to be a devoted sun lover and tanner but now I am a proudly reformed sun worshipper.  I still love to lay out on a hot day but I make sure to cover up when I can, wear and re-apply my sunscreen and I now get my tan from a bottle. [The best for non-orange, no streak colour is St. Tropez and you can get it at Beauty Mark in Yaletown!]

Filed under: Miranda Massie

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