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This week is Sun Awareness Week, so we’ve brought you this guest post from Jen, who blogs about life after melanoma at liferightnow.co.uk.
As spring arrives and the evenings get lighter, all around people begin to get excited for summer. But what happens when you unwillingly become a part of a percentage of people that sun actually poses a threat to?
In 2013, I was diagnosed with stage III malignant melanoma. After surgery, I took part in a drug trial, and experienced side effects including hair loss, extreme fatigue, myalgia and extreme photosensitivity - five minutes in the sun and I would burn even wearing SPF50. It was a long, hard year at times.
During the trial I always made a conscious effort to look well, so people often didn’t really know how much discomfort I was in. My hairstyle changed to cope with losing a lot of hair and my make-up concealed my eyebrows, which had almost disappeared. I spent the summer sat under wide-brimmed hats wearing factor 50-100, when I was able to enjoy it.
I love the sunshine, the feeling of warmth of your skin and summer evening sunsets and, this year, I'm determined not to let melanoma affect me any further. I have set out to prove that sun safe does not mean 'sun-less'. Being safe in the sun is something we should all take note of, but unfortunately being 'sun safe' is often considered difficult and not a priority when it comes to looking good. I certainly won’t be hiding come the summer months but I do intend to remain conscious of it.
These are all things I learnt last year during my treatment and as I move forward, the idea that someone might come to me for advice based on my experience, or that an individual, even a stranger, could relate to my situation has helped me feel valid and supported, like I can turn my bad experience into a positive. It is a way to help myself as I help someone else, which is a huge achievement and feels very rewarding.
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UV400 sunglasses are also recommended. I wear glasses and decided to go for wrap around ones that can be worn over the top of my own glasses. I went for bright red frames so that they still looked fashionable and not like Stevie Wonder.
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