I love spring like every midwesterner. There is nothing like those first few days of warm air and sunshine to kick off a wild case of spring fever. As a runner I welcome those first few weeks of spring when I can run outside but also feel comfortable in my 50+ UPF knickers and long sleeved shirts.
But when the sun heats up and the temperatures go into the 80’s it is time for shorts and short sleeves. That is when I do my best with 50+ UPF shirts and shorts, sunscreen and a wisely chosen route with shade.
Even with all of my best efforts I still hit a long patch of full sun and the internal panic attacks kick in. I start scanning for shade, panicking that my sunscreen has worn off, remembering a statistic about marathoners and melanoma. All the horrible thoughts invade what should be a time of clarity and freedom. I push them away and think back through all the steps I have taken to do my best to stay safe.
This is what your friends and loved one’s may not understand. Your life has forever been changed since the melanoma diagnosis. You will no longer be the girl on the lawn of a park those first few days of spring sunning yourself without sunscreen. You will always have to fight back those “I’m not protected” fears when you sit down for an impromptu lunch on a restaurant patio. Your car likely has sunscreen stashed in the glovebox and center console. And, you might just be that crazy runner in nickers and long sleeves during a 16 mile run in May (see above). This is your new sunality. Embrace it because you can’t change it. You made choices in the past to get you here, so now you have to make choices to stay healthy.