Liewicki Leaks: My damaged skin is my fault

Nathan Liewicki
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My mother was right.

The harmful effect of the sun is demonstrable on Nathan Liewicki's skin. He encourages all people to wear sunscreen.

All those days of nagging me as a teenager and young adult to make sure I applied sunscreen on my face — especially my nose — and not doing so whenever I hit the links for a round of golf has finally caught up with me.

A golf addict since I was about nine years old, I enjoyed smacking around that damn little white, but sometimes yellow or orange, ball every chance I had.

As my talent on the course gradually improved and I won a junior club championship, made my high school team and played collegiate golf with my alma mater, the University of Alberta, it appears the skin on my face became more damaged.

While at Peacock Collegiate Monday to talk with students who voluntarily had snapshots of their face with a ultra-violet (UV) camera, I too thought it was worth seeing just how damaged my skin was.

After speaking with students, staff and Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) representatives, I peeled off my glasses, rested my chin on a tiny stand inside the UV camera and stared at the five lights glaring back at me.

I closed my eyes and a couple seconds later I saw a flash of light through my closed eyelids that took a reading three millimeters below my skin’s surface. Using the before and after photos of her own face, a Grade 12 student had already explained to me the colours I did not want to see when my “after” picture — I did not elect to have a “before” picture taken — was printed out for me. Those colours were green, blue, purple, white and, of course, red.

Unfortunately a few specs of blue appeared around the corners of my lips, but other than that a large portion of my face below my eyelids were quite red.

Granted, I had not shaved for a few days, so my mustache may have hidden some of the damage to my face, but overall the skin on my face has sustained plenty of UV damage over the years.

Was my picture the worst of the 60 taken that day, or of the other photos taken in three days since then?

Let’s just say I saw a few more faces with more permanent skin damage than mine, but that’s not the point.

The point is that sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15, 30, 60 and higher — if applied properly and consistently — will keep your skin, and not just your face, healthy and less damaged by the powerful UV rays emitted by the sun onto your body.

According to the CCS, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers among young people and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Saskatchewan.

Summer is quickly approaching and that means more people will be spending time in the sun partaking in a variety of activities. It also means people of all ages will be subject to the sun and harmful effect it can have on your skin.

I now know the extent of how damaged my skin is and it’s something I’m not proud of, but had a direct hand in by sloughing off the need to apply sunscreen as frequently as I should have.

So do not be lazy and arrogant like me. Apply that SPF-lathered sunscreen and your skin will thank you later.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society, University of Alberta

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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