Unfortunately I was recently reminded that Melanoma is a hereditary disease, but not in the way I would have expected. We always think of our children after we are diagnosed with a hereditary disease. What can I do to protect them, change their lifestyle? What I didn’t think was how to protect my parent. I knew my mother had a long history of a bad relationship with the sun. She grew up when sunscreen didn’t exist and the only thing you used on your skin in the summers was baby oil and a sun reflector. Like me, she is super pale, but has native american blood so she tans well. All the photos we see of my mother when she was young feature her rocking a hot bathing suit and bronze tan. Her issues with skin cancer started years ago, but just recently she received her first melanoma diagnosis. It was caught early and had not become malignant. All in all, very lucky, but a great reminder that when we are diagnosed with a hereditary illness it is important to not just look down the family tree, but also up and to our sides. Thankfully my mother has been seeing a dermatologist on a regular basis for years, so her melanoma was caught early. Please remember to encourage your parents, siblings, aunts and cousins to make their annual skin scan a priority.
I am a mother of two and survivor of a very scary malignant melanoma diagnosis. I was diagnosed in my early thirties. Since that day, I have been working to change my lifestyle and incorporate sun blocking effective products into my daily life to create a new reality of living in the sun... my "sunality." I want to pass along this information to others who are facing the same lifestyle changes and challenges. You can still live a normal life and protect yourself from the deadly effects of the sun.