Welp, I got some less-than-awesome news this week.
I have skin cancer.
How tired are you of hearing the “c-word” here? Let me tell you, I’m extremely tired of speaking it, writing it, and thinking about it. But, just as I tried to increase awareness by writing about my sister’s breast cancer battle almost a year ago, I’m going to do the same here.
People have preached to you about skin cancer. I know you have. I get it; I have been, too.
I’m sure you rolled your eyes. It may have made you feel kinda guilty for laying in the tanning bed. But not guilty enough to stop.
You’re probably not going to watch the entire length this video even though I urge, beg, and plead you to.
Because, like I did, you think you have some superpower that makes you invincible.
You’re not. Trust me. No matter how “smart” you think you are about the sun.
I have friends who go to the beach and don’t put sunscreen on because they “don’t burn.” Or they “burn and then it turns to tan.” Or “It’s cloudy. Or they “don’t feel like getting greasy.”
When you get a call from your dermatologist after a routine checkup saying you have melanoma, you’re going to feel really stupid about not wanting to be greasy.
You’re going to feel foolish for every single time you lay in a tanning bed to get rid of “strap marks” for your friend’s wedding. And for every time you got a sunburn on the field hockey field as a kid.
The truth is, there is no “smart” way to tan. I was “smart.” And I have skin cancer.
I was never one of those people who would just take my chances on the beach; I always wear sunscreen. If I went tanning, I would go about once a week to get ready for an event and tell my friends who tanned several days in a row to cool it. Obviously, it doesn’t matter how often you go, because I only tanned sporadically. Just don’t lay in the tanning bed at all.
I went to the dermatologist simply because I hadn’t been in a while. I didn’t have any questionable looking moles or freckles. I’m not so fair that I worry about skin cancer; on the contrary, I tan pretty easily.
When I arrived for my routine screening, the dermatologist scraped off an area on my back, on my arm, and on my chest. I wish I had thought to take photos of these spots, because they definitely didn’t look risky.
None of my “spots” had any of the warning signs.
See that tiny spot? It’s an itty bitty freckle. I don’t have that spot anymore.
As you’re reading this, I’m having surgery to remove a chunk off my back. While I get this done, I want you to:
- Find a dermatologist near you and schedule an appointment. We are supposed to have a routine screening once yearly.
- Share the video I posted here. Spread the word about the dancers of skin cancer.
- Get your friends out of the tanning beds. Tell them you have a friend who has skin cancer, and she says it’s just not worth it.
Embrace your pastiness. It’s Winter — we’re supposed to be pale right now!
Take the Pasty Pledge with me.
**EDITED TO ADD: After years of using sunless tanner, my favorite brands are Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion and L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Lotion for body and still Clinique Clinique Self Sun Face Tinted Lotion for face.