Probably one of the things that I heard the most growing up. Between laying out in the sun and tanning in a tanning bed through my early college years, I was very happily tan. But I wish I would have listened... Not only does unprotected UV exposure cause premature aging (who wants wrinkles!?), but I did get cancer...

They found melanoma on my leg in December of 2010, when I went to the dermatologist because of eczema I was scratching bloody. I didn't even know I had melanoma and was not seeing the doctor because of it. The mole was so tiny! Maybe the size of a pencil eraser! I remember it itching on and off over the previous year or so, it changing color, then it didn't bother me anymore so it was out of site out of mind. The doc sent the mole off to be tested and went over my therapy options, we discussed chemo and radiation and my head was spinning. When the results came back, it was bad and they scheduled surgery as soon as they could get me in.

In surgery they discovered it was level 4 out of 5, which had it hit 5 it would have more than likely reached my lymph nodes and spread throughout my body. It was a close call and it's still not over. I go back to the dermatologist every 4 months to get moles taken off and tested. I have scars all over my body because they have to go deep enough to get clear margins, when taking the samples. The doctor said they will more than likely find another melanoma, but now it's a matter of catching it before it goes too far. Every mole they have taken off so far has been "pre-cancerous".

Tanning wasn't worth it! Do I miss being perfectly tan all the time, sure! But you can spray tan, if you absolutely must be tan or just enjoy the little color you do get when soaking up some vitamin D (with sunscreen on of course!). My calf now tells a nice story of a shark taking a bite out of it, because all the tissue there has not grown back. Take care of your skin, get checked out by a dermatologist, and keep an eye on any changing moles on your body. Most importantly WEAR SUNSCREEN!