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Growing up in Southern California in the late 60s and early 70s, time in the sun was a given. Usually I’d get a blistering sunburn at least once a year, you know, to set the “base” for a good tan. Then I could go out without any sort of sunscreen because I was “protected”.

From the age of 8 to 16, I was on a year-round competitive swim team and then hung out at the beach in the summer when not at workout. Sunscreen was just beginning to get attention, but why would I want to lose a glorious tan?

In the 80s after high school, a real job and college got in the way of lolling around in the sun. Thank goodness indoor tanning stepped in to fill the void! That went on for two years…until my first trip to a dermatologist.

Apparently all those moles (100s, really) were not little beauty marks like my mom had kept telling me. Apparently having blonde hair and pale blue eyes, plus 100s of “little beauty marks” is nature’s way of telling us “YOU SHALL NOT SUNBATHE”. Doh!

So at 25 years old, I stopped tanning but didn’t stay out of the sun. SPF 40 and above meant that I could still spend every minute I chose to in full sun, right? Double doh!

Fast forward to age 48 and after many, many dysplastic nevi excisions, one of those little buggers turned out to be malignant. And you know what? I have only myself to blame. My melanoma was caused by choices I made throughout my life, thinking that all the warnings from doctors and skin care specialists simply couldn’t apply to me.

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