Blonde, built, and beautiful, Sunology recently had the privilege of interviewing Lyndsey Coppock, Shred 415 instructor and melanoma survivor, in honor of Melanoma Awareness month. Her story starts like many others—an unexpected, and altogether frightening, skin cancer diagnoses. But through winning the battle, she has become an activist and has learned to channel skin cancer awareness through her existing passions, like fitness.
Sunology: How did you find out you had melanoma?
Lyndsey: I went in for a routine mole check but had just recently gotten back from a trip to Hawaii during which I was badly burned. I noticed a mole on my left arm and knew it looked suspicious and at my regular mole check appointment I made a follow up to have it removed a month later. The day after it was removed my dermatologist told me that I had a stage 1B melanoma. I’d need to have surgery to remove the small mole on my arm but that the scar would be about 6 inches. I’d also have to remove lymph nodes from under my arm to be sure it hadn’t spread.
S: How did you react when you received the melanoma diagnosis? What went through your mind?
L: Fear completely took over. I never thought something like this would happen to me. The first thing I thought was: how soon until I know whether or not this has spread? My immediate reaction was that something cancerous had invaded my body and I couldn’t remove it fast enough.
S: How has this experience changed or impacted the way you view your everyday lifestyle decisions?
L: Full disclosure, prior to being diagnosed with melanoma I was not careful at all about sun exposure. I thought that a little burn would turn into a little tan, and even if I got a bad burn I didn’t worry about it. So much has changed! I know now that no tan is a healthy tan…and any suntan is skin damage. I wear SPF on my face every single day and I cover myself in sunblock if I need to be outside. I choose the shade over the sun, an umbrella over laying out at the beach, and I always have big hat.
S: What is most important to you as a survivor, moving forward?
L: I try as hard as I can to inform people about my story and the dangers of sun damage. I try to be an activist because I was the last person to think I would be diagnosed with melanoma, and the scariest part about my melanoma specifically is that I know my choices caused it. I know that I made poor decisions about spending time in the sun and I can never take those choices back. Now, sunscreen is my best friend and in the summer I never leave home without it.
S: What does Melanoma Awareness month mean to you? What do you think it should mean to everyone else?
L: May as Melanoma Awareness month means so much to me. Every hour someone will die of melanoma and you can decrease your risk JUST by staying out of the sun! It’s something so simple that can save your life. You don’t realize how precious that is and how unimportant your suntan was until you’re told you have cancer--and that if you didn’t catch it that cancer could have spread throughout your whole body and taken your life before you were 35. You only get one life; your suntan isn’t worth the risk.
“Anyone can make the right choices about spending too much time in the sun. You never think it’s going to be you until it is.”
This month, at the Shred 415 studio in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Lyndsey held a Melanoma awareness-focused Shred class to reach other active adults about the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of taking precautionary measures. Sunology was thrilled to participate as a partner at this event, supplying samples for the gift bags for all those in attendance, and we feel fortunate to have Lyndsey, a survivor-turned-devoted-sunscreen-user, to do the boots-on-the-ground type advocacy that truly fosters awareness.
Of course, we had to ask Lyndsey her thoughts on Sunology. Her unedited response:“I LOVE Sunology...it makes me feel like I’m really getting the most out of my (sunscreen). If you’re going to layer something all over your body to protect you from something as powerful as the sun, it’s comforting to know that you’re not layering up with chemicals and instead protecting yourself with vitamins and antioxidants. Makes you want to keep layering it on!”--thatta girl!
Some final words of wisdom from this powerful survivor, “Anyone can make the right choices about spending too much time in the sun. You never think it’s going to be you until it is.” We couldn’t agree more.
This melanoma awareness month, let Lyndsey's story inspire you to approach sun exposure carefully and to be informed of the risks. Take preventative measures, start habits that will support your skin health, and--most importantly--wear sunscreen every day.