It’s summer time. Here in Southern California, the June gloom is giving way to the glorious sunshine that California is known for. And all that sunshine brings us both the good and the bad. It is also time for the return of the Crazy Hat Lady! My big hats have been dusted off and ready to be worn.
The good: Vitamin D. Soak up some rays to get your vitamin D naturally. Now that winter is over, get outside and enjoy it.
The bad: lots of skin problems, specifically skin cancers caused by the sun. For people with Parkinson’s, our risk of melanoma is higher than that of the general population. It doesn’t matter if you are fair with lots of freckles, or dark skinned. You need to be vigilant and make sure that you see a dermatologist at least once a year, more often if something just doesn’t look right.
To combat the harmful UV rays, you need to use sunscreen, lots of sunscreen. And take a hint from all of those Japanese women we saw with umbrellas in Kyoto. They had the cutest umbrellas designed specifically to combat UV rays. I had to buy one before I left Japan. The only ones I have found at home are Sunbrella, which are utilitarian at best.
So now, in addition to wearing a big hat when walking around LA, I also have a cute umbrella in tow.
Why do I take such precautions? I have had numerous skin cancers over the years. The first one, 34 years ago, was a Melanoma. Why start with the easy stuff, right? Mr. Twitchy detected that one and sent me to the dermatologist. Fortunately it was barely a stage 1 and only required a deeper cut to make sure everything was out.
Overall, patients with Parkinson’s were roughly four times likelier to have had a history of melanoma than those without Parkinson’s
I have an increased risk of Melanoma because I have had a previous Melanoma, Parkinson’s and the BRCA2 mutation for Breast Cancer. A triple threat. There is an interesting relationship between Melanoma and PD. According to the Mayo Clinic “Overall, patients with Parkinson’s were roughly four times likelier to have had a history of melanoma than those without Parkinson’s, and people with melanoma had a fourfold higher risk of developing Parkinson’s, the research found.” *
A few weeks ago, I went to the dermatologist for my semi-annual skin check. I found a spot on my arm that looked new and had her look at it. It had the typical warning signs: two toned, irregular shaped.She removed it and sent it out for biopsy. Needless to say, I was not surprised when she called to tell me that it was indeed a Melanoma. Again, it was tiny, in situ, which means that it had not spread beyond the initial site into the deeper layers of the skin. I just need to go back and have some more tissue removed.
As I said to my dermatologist, it took 34 years to get a second Melanoma. I can live with waiting another 34 years before getting another one. But until then I will still wear my big hats and now I have that cute umbrella to carry around, too.
So the crazy hat lady will be roaming the streets of Beverly Hills again this summer, Watch out! I am armed!
* People with Parkinson’s should be monitored for melanoma, and vice versa, Mayo study finds
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