Trying to tell kids about skin cancer

The skin cancer conversation happened last weekend en route to the beach.  I make my kids wear SPF 50 sunscreen. (Yes, it exists. My mom was so pissed she had to borrow ours because she would get “absolutely NO color.”) We don’t need the tan, so why NOT have the best protection possible, right?

My daughter, Kiyah, doesn’t like that it makes her face shiny (Allow me a quick *eyeroll* to this new 10 and a half year old “tween” phase) so she asked why we have to wear it.

I said… “Well, it protects your skin from the sun.”

“What’s wrong with the sun?”

“The suns UV rays are damaging… can make your skin look old… and can cause skin cancer.”

“What is skin cancer?”

This is a hard question to answer… and as soft-footed as I tried to explain it resulted in my son, Mekhi saying…. “So I shouldn’t play in the sun at recess?!”

*sigh* “No, Mekhi, you probably won’t get it. It’s generally from excessive exposure.”

“Like how much?”

“Just a lot.”

He balks. “So you don’t really know… so how do we know how not to get it?! What other kinds of cancer are there?! Can I get foot cancer?! Or eye cancer?!”

“Mostly just organs.”

“How do you keep from getting other organ cancers?”

“Some types are caused by the sun, as you now know, or smoking…but others, people get for unknown reasons. It’s sad.”

OMG! So there is nothing we can do?!”

Yes, it appears I’ve just terrified my children and now they’ll probably have nightmares about sinister cancer cells hiding under their beds. This is how conversations like this tend to go lately.

I should take a class.


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