Skin Cancer Awareness Month

My Dad Died From Skin Cancer, Please Trust Me When I Tell You To Wear Sunscreen

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and no matter your skin tone, tanning could lead to skin cancer.

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Summer is a time where hair gets lighter, music is played louder, campfires are the new normal, and laying out by the pool is all most teenage girls want to do during the day.

What most people don't know is that skin cancer is deadly, and an increasing amount of sunburns or tans can lead to that. May is melanoma awareness month, and it's important to understand how deadly it truly is. Melanoma is a type of cancer that accounts for only 3% of all skin cancer but is the deadliest and the hardest to cure if it's caught too late. It starts in melanocytes (which are cells that create melanin) and it's what gives skin its color.

Because your skin is the largest organ, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body fast. Typically, it's found in a black or red spot on the skin or an existing mole that has an irregular shape, size, or color. Not only is melanoma the most frequent appearing cancer in young adults ages 20-30, but it is the MAIN cause of cancer death in women ages 25-30. So why is it that it's so frequent in young adults, especially women? One word: tanning. Sun damage is linked directly to melanoma because it causes the skin cells to change. Whether you tan on a tanning bed or in the natural sunlight, they both have the same risk of developing melanoma. If you've had more than five peeling sunburns in your life, then your risk for melanoma doubles.

Some things to look out for that may increase your risk of melanoma are: sun damage, especially a history of peeling sunburns, fair complexion (people with blond or red hair, light skin, blue eyes and a tendency to sunburn), previous melanoma, moles, as well as a family history of melanoma. It's important to not despair because not everyone with multiple sunburns gets melanoma, but it's very important to be aware. Just by wearing SPF 15 or above sunscreen daily reduces the risk of melanoma by 50%. If you wear a hat outside to protect your face it will also decrease your chances, as well as a swim shirt or rash guard at the beach. Checking regularly for anything irregular in the skin and seeing your dermatologist once a year will help to keep you and your skin healthy.

Melanoma is very personal to me because my dad was diagnosed with it when I was a little girl, and by the time the doctors caught it, it was too late.

Not only do I have a higher risk of melanoma because my father died from it, but I'm also extremely fair with blonde hair and blue eyes, which is an increased risk on its own. This doesn't mean I'll get melanoma, but I have spent my childhood being aware of the risks and protecting myself the best I can. I want to spread the word about melanoma because people are often unsure of what it is, the key causes, and how they can prevent it. Hopefully, this article not only made you stop and think about the real truth of tanning but also about protecting yourself. This summer, even if your friends are tanning on the beach, please use sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays. It could save your life.

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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.
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It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semicolon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.


2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."


3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.


4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."


5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."


6. Greek symbol of Inguz: Where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."


8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya).


9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty, and artistic creativity.


10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love, and creativity or to put yourself into whatever you do.


11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from "The Hobbit." It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.


13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength and stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.


16. A glyph means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."


18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe and the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can remind us of the inconsistency of life. It also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.


SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos


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The Things I Found At Rock Bottom

It was the darkest, but the dawn did come.

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About 3 months ago, my whole life was uprooted by a breakup.

My ex ended a relationship with me very suddenly that I had the full intention of being in for the rest of my life, and even thought I knew it was a necessary loss, coming down from that high and detoxing our toxic relationship from my system was the hardest thing I have ever been through. There was a day I finished up in class and zoned out and started driving, until I found myself three hours away from home. I didn't eat for days, and I woke up every day having panic attacks when I remembered everything that had happened. The first few weeks were a dark, horrible blur, with pain at levels I would never wish on anyone. On top of that, I was also forced to move an hour away from home and quit a job that I loved as a result of the breakup.

I wasn't just losing a person, I was losing everything that I built my identity up to be. Our relationship was my whole life, and that's why I knew that us breaking up was necessary, but that didn't take away the two and a half years of memories I was left with. He also chose to end it in such a violent and excruciating way — telling me he never loved me, cutting off all contact with me, and basically telling me to kill myself. Sitting in the rubble of all of this, I had never felt so empty and void of happiness before.

But when you're completely shattered and sitting in nothing but rubble, you're presented with a beautiful opportunity — a blank canvas. There are no morning and night routines laid out for you, you don't have the same people texting you as before, you don't have the good morning text that you were used to. You have nothing. Because of these things, your own interests and desires become the default setting you're programmed to operate on, and you get to know yourself in a way that you didn't before.

Here's how I found my way out of the void.

1. Small distractions are so helpful.

.There were a few things that I turned to that were absolutely crucial to me when I was struggling to keep it together: New Girl, playing the game Words With Friends, and journaling (free-writing, and writing in these that I found at Target). Honestly, these things rarely actually made me feel better. However, the value I found in them was creating new habits and filling my life back up with things that didn't involve my heartbreak.

2. You need a support system.

I have always had a hard time trusting people and talking about my feelings. So I thought, naturally, the way to cope with that is to find one person you can trust, and for them to be your ride or die. That's what my ex was for me. When he was gone, I had to learn how to open up to people again, which was extremely foreign and uncomfortable for me. It was an odd feeling to text a friend and say "I'm not okay right now and I need you", and even more uncomfortable when they were nice and supportive back. But all of the dozens of people I leaned on ended up being literally a support system for me- giving me advice, keeping me in check, and telling me all of the things I didn't want to hear, like how pathetic I was acting at some points.

3. You absolutely cannot avoid pain in life.

A quote I found by Jon Kabat-Zinn reads, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to swim" and that became a guiding philosophy for me in dealing with pain. As comforting as it would've been for me to tell myself I'll never let anyone hurt me again, or I was never going to be in another relationship again, I instead decided to tell myself that I was never going to let something break me so deeply again, because I would have a stronger foundation of me and a stronger sense of self. So that when the next person left my life, I would be sad, but I wouldn't feel shattered to the core ever again. Life involves constant rejection, constant disappointment, and constant anxiety. You will never escape that. You will hurt so much throughout life. But if you can build yourself to be strong enough, it won't matter.

4. You can empathize with somebody and forgive their actions and still want nothing to do with them- and that's okay.

When my ex and I were together, he messed up and did a lot of things wrong. He would scream at me and tell me he hated me and apologize with so much fear and hurt in his eyes and say, "I'm sorry, sometimes my anxiety causes me to demonize you" and in the moment I wasn't strong enough to say "it's okay, but you're abusive and I need to be away from you". I instead would say, "It's okay, let's not worry about it and just go to bed" and it would keep on happening. I empathized too much with his demons and gave him too much understanding at my own expense. Now I've learned that I can still feel that way about him, but when he reaches out asking for another chance, I can say no. And I don't feel guilty anymore.

5. Your relationship with yourself should be your top priority.

To explain my experience of learning to love myself, it would take pages. Simply put, I started being okay with things just being me, myself, and I. If I had a rough day, I would at first come home wishing I had my ex there to talk to and be there for me. Eventually I started going to Target, picking up a bottle of wine, and taking care of my damn self. I stopped thinking "oh I'd love to do this but I don't have anybody to go with me" and started eating at restaurants alone, going to bars alone, and going on hikes alone. I bought myself jewelry that I wished a guy would buy me. I said yes to every guy that asked me out on a date just to put myself out there. I spontaneously went and got a new tattoo completely by myself. And now that I steady to the core in my own being, anybody in my life is there because they're a complement, not a supplement. This will protect me from ever staying in a relationship again that manages to gut me in the way my previous one did.

A quote that I love from J.K. Rowling reads, "Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life", and that is absolutely true of what the past three months have been for me. Day by day, I've pieced together a new identity and healed my soul. I wouldn't have been here if I hadn't hit rock bottom.

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