Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Need To Live For As Long As I Can: #ChooseSkinHealth

Having a child with autism gives me this sense of urgency to take better care of myself.  Because while I know it's impossible to live forever - I want to be healthy and live for as long as I can.  

I really started to think about immortality on the day my mother told me she had skin cancer  (melanoma).  For years she had a dark growth on the back of her ear that kept getting bigger and bigger.  

My mother said the words like it was no big deal.  But I knew she was worried.  And she was playing it off because she didn't want me to worry.   

The thought of losing my mother.  The thought of The Boy losing his grandmother - scared me.  

Luckily once removed, she was fine.  But it made me think.  

My father would be described as trigueƱo (olive skinned) and he spent many summers, shirtless, strutting up and down beach boardwalks, soaking up the sun.  As for my mother - her childhood nickname was leche because her skin was as white as milk.  In all of my years - I had never, not once, seen either of my parents apply any kind of sun block.  

And it made me think of my younger years.  Laying out at the beach slathering on baby oil mixed with a splash of iodine or cola.  Not smart at all.     

One American dies of melanoma almost every hour, and the number of cases is increasing in the Latino community. However, many people are still ignoring the serious repercussions of exposing their skin to UVA and UVB radiation without protection by going to tanning salons, sun bathing and not using sunscreen when out for long periods of time. It's also been noted that compared to Caucasian women, fewer Hispanic women believe it's important to wear sunscreen daily and are under the impression that darker skin is at low risk for melanoma.

 As a mom, I've made sure The Boy is protected from the sun, lathered with lotion and skin covered.  While often neglecting my own skin.  

I can't reverse the skin damage I've done but I can learn from my mistakes and take better care of my skin all year round.  That's why I'm excited to team up with Neutrogena and help promote their Choose Skin Health Campaign.  Because, I know I've taken my skin for granted and I don't want The Boy to do the same.   
I need to take care of MY skin, 
the way I take care of HIS skin.  

Below are a few helpful tips:  
  • Try to avoid peak sun hours if possible, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.  (I don't know about you but that NJ tanning mom has me freaked out.) 
  • Always wear a sunscreen.  ALWAYS.  All year long. 
    • Dermatologists recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
For more Choose Skin Health info and FREE cancer skin screening locations (across the country) please click HERE and/or "Like" the Choose Skin Health Facebook Page.

I searched New York State/City area and there are several locations within New York City.  

I remember when my mother finally got tested for skin cancer.  Thinking back I realize she may have waited so long  to have it checked was because my parents didn't have health care.  (My father had lost his job and well...unemployment and health care are tricky things.)      

With so many still unemployed and ever changing health care rates, these free skin cancer screenings could save so many lives.  Even if you have medical insurance - make an appointment with your doctor and/or dermatologist and have yourself examined.  

Whether you're a parent or not.  Whether you're a special needs parent or not.  We all have one life to live.  Let's live it to the fullest, longest and healthiest.    
Disclosure:  This is a compensated post and in collaboration with Neutrogena and Latina Bloggers Connect.  All stories and opinions are my own.  

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.