The Annual Check-Up We Shouldn't Forget

We hear it all the time. Get yourself checked out. Whether it is for your annual well woman exam or mammogram, yearly check-ups help keep us healthy and alert us to any problems that might be developing. Yet one check-up that moms in the Valley of the Sun should also be getting annually, is your skin.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body. So why would it not need a check-up as well? We all know that we need to put sunscreen on us almost daily, but do we? It seems so long ago, but five short months ago I was walking my kids to school. It was a short, 30-minute round trip adventure. Yet my skin was being exposed to the blazing sun that whole time. If I did that twice a day, five times a week, that meant my skin was being exposed, without sunscreen for five hours!

I grew up in a major sunscreen household. When I was a toddler my mother was diagnosed with a melanoma on her leg. Thankfully it was caught early and has been in remission for over 40 years. Even though I was raised in a sunscreen household and still put on sunscreen when I was at a beach or a lake, that did not mean I was immune to the same fate.

I started seeing a dermatologist yearly when I moved to Anthem five years ago. Yet on my daily walks to and from school, I just didn’t think to put sunblock on or carry an umbrella. In November of 2018, one of my moles on my back tested positive as precancerous.

I was lucky. It was caught early and it was very mild. I went in for a simple, 10-minute procedure that took a good chunk out of my back. A month later, it was healed up and I was on my way, cancer free. Yet so many of us go about our daily lives not realizing that our bodies are being bombarded by those deadly sunrays. A yearly visit to a dermatologist can help keep an eye on your skin, and alert you to any problems that are or may potentially come up later.

If you are outside for any amount of time in Arizona and you’re not covered, remember to wear sunscreen. Even something as light as a 15-30 SPF. If you feel that your kids need the sunblock (which they probably do) then don’t forget yourself mama. If you’re like me and sometimes it just doesn’t happen, then do yourself this favor. When you make those annual appointments for mammograms and vision, add a dermatologist to your list. A simple 15-minute exam once a year could save your life.

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