I was wondering what to write about for this week, and realized the old adage about 'write what you know' is always the best plan to follow..
I am a skin cancer survivor- now, for the second time...
I grew up in Southern California, and yes, all those cliches are true, we lived at the beach in the summer, during the week went everyday, all day, and I was almost black by the time school rolled around..me, blonde-red hair, freckles..I see you mentally cringing out there..and you're right to flinch, you know what's coming..
This was late 50's, early 60's, and aside from a cute puppy de-pantsing a tanned little girl on billboards (can you imagine that ad now?) and big letters saying "Tan, Don't Burn, Use Coppertone", there wasn't a whole lot of info out there, about skin cancer, or aging early, or any of it. The fad when I was a teen was to take baby oil, add iodine (for its' staining properties) and slather yourself with it..that's right, oil..and yes, it made us literally fry..but hey, we were tan!
Being a chubby teen and a bit of a nerdy type at school(not that 'nerd' as a term of derision even existed, all you had to say was "smart kids" to see lips curl with scorn), I was thrilled to have something the cool kids had-a beach tan..we even used to wear jewelry for a few days to contrast the area around it..sort of tan tattooing..
Years (let's face it, eons) later I am paying the price..and you will too, and your children even more so, because the sky is full of unseen hazards, barely understood, that barely existed in my day- a terminally disappearing ozone layer, and thus our protection from infra-red, among them..The fact that some scientists report a 'healing' happening is great..how many centuries will that take?
I thought really seriously about removing the bandages from my arm today (I had still another chunk of myself cut out yesterday), and taking photos of the ugly mess that is the stitched-up removal site, and using a bit of tough love to get people shocked into being sensible about spending time in the sun, but I know it won't work on those who are addicted to the tan thing..I get it, been there, done that, got the surgical scars to show for it, the one on my face is particularly attractive....this one was a melanoma, far more serious than the more common basal cell carcinoma that I used to have cut out routinely..although it's called a 'low-grade' melanoma, I can't get past the 'm' word and feel casual about this one; to tell the truth, I feel like whatever I do now is too little, too late..
Please tell your children, no, insist on slathering them with sunscreen, if they are spending the day in the sun..and if your teens sneer at the thought, I'm sure there are lots of horrifying images on line to help to convince them..just don't say I didn't warn you..wish someone had warned me..