In 2013, the American Cancer Society estimates 1.66 Million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed. 112,000 of those will be in Texas alone. Of the total 1.66M, 76,000 of those will be skin cancer represented as a melanoma. Let me put it a different way. Today, September 24, 2013, 210 new people will be diagnosed with melanoma. This happens every single day. Not included in the new cases are the number of NMSC (non-melanoma). These are estimated at 3.5 Million for this year. These are people having to get places cut off their noses, heads, ears and hands to make sure it doesn't spread.
So why the gloom and doom?
Cancer has been on my mind alot lately. I have a friend who had a NMSC removed last week the size of a golf ball. I have family I have lost and friends who have lost their loved ones to various forms of cancer this year and my time on the water yesterday afternoon brought it all bubbling up. Needing to get out on the water after a horrid day at work, I was at the kayak launch and was internally dialoguing whether or not to wear sunscreen. I would only be in the sun about an hour. Did I need coverage past the sunscreen? I opted to play it safe. I applied sunscreen to all my skin I could see and then put on my Hoo-Rag to cover even more. As soon as I started toward the west I felt the sun. It felt warm and I knew I had made a good choice.
As a young man in my teens and twenties, I didn't use sunblock. I can remember getting burned to the point of having blisters and welps. Stupid. I now know better. It's a habit you have to build into your routine but if it means being around for your family, friends and fishing buddies a few more years, isn't it worth it?
Here are some of the things I recommend and do.
Sunscreens come in a variety of forms: creams, sprays, gels and more. Find one you can tolerate and keep it with you.
Coverage is another big help. Find a hat. Some people like the wide brimmed ones. Those are best. I have a hard time wearing one so I opt for a ball cap and a Hoo-Rag. The Hoo allows me to cover my ears, face, neck or all three in addition to the sunscreen coverage. I switched to the Hoo-Rag recently because it is a little thinner than a Buff, stretches better and is easier to breathe through. I have four in my collection currently but they have over 30 designs to choose from. I wear long sleeves 95% of the year, especially in the summer. I very rarely wear shorts. And yes, I have a glorious white glow, not that anyone ever sees it.
Reapplication. Sunscreens are usually only good in wet conditions for 60-80 minutes. Keep it with you on the water and reapply often.
Protect your eyes. Find a comfortable pair of sunglasses. I prefer polarized glass lenses and use the Smith Optics PolarChromic Tenet Glasses. The important thing is to protect your eyes. If you want protection AND performance, the Smiths are amazing and light on your nose.
Hopefully this doesn't come across as preachy but I do care about each and every one of you. I hope you and your families never experience cancer and especially one that can be avoided in most cases.
Stay safe out there.