Growing up on a farm in Eastern Oregon during the 70’s and 80’s, I frequently rewarded myself after a morning full of feeding animals, driving a tractor, and moving hand-lines by meeting my friends on the shores of the Columbia River. At this location the teenage ritual of applying baby oil to our exposed skin, spritzing Sun-In into our hair, then laying down on a beach towel in the 100+ degree sunshine was performed. We basted ourselves, turning every 30 minutes or so, and then on the hour; jump up and run into the river to water ski, swim or jump off a nearby cliff to cool down.
This occurred from approximately12 to 16 hours daily, when we would all return to our homes, change hand lines again, feed and water animals again to be gloriously free to spend the evening with our friends and families. My memories are frequent and fond of this idyllic, pastoral scene.
What I didn’t realize as a freckle faced strawberry blonde, was the damage I was imposing upon myself. I spent years cultivating my healthy glow! During the 90’s I couldn’t always get that outside sun time. As a full-time mom of 3 young kids I had to compress my sun time, thus going to tanning salons thinking that the UV lights in those locations was
safer (and it sure was faster)!
Enter the 2000’s. I was shocked when I was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been shocked at all, in fact, it was almost as if I had cultivated it (I certainly paid good money for it).
Part of our emotional protection is denial, and that was where I was living. Since my initial diagnosis, I have had other bouts, and as a matter of fact, will soon be facing another skin cancer surgery.
I say all of that to say this: skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. More than 5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States. The American Cancer Society and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention have designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day,” and yes, the pun is intended.
The motto for National Don’t Fry Day is “Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap”. I don’t know what I really think of their motto, but again it is theirs, not mine. The thought process behind the motto is as follows: Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, wrap on some sunglasses. Earlier etymologies of this phrase were sung by Sid the Seagull and he encouraged you to slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, slop on some sunscreen, seek some shade and slide on some sunglasses. This alliteration works well for my brain. I encourage you to YouTube it if you want to share with your kids.
Although skin cancer risk factors are present every single day, the dangers are greater during the long days of summer when we spend more time in the sun. I will add to the slip, slap, slap, seek and slide with “stash.”
Stash that sunscreen in your golf bag (yes, Becky….. do it!), go bag, camping gear, or glove box!
Submitted by Becky Robison