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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Because I Haven't Mentioned it Before...Cautionary Tale #2

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, 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 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..


  1. Oh...I'm right there with ya! We used to slather transmission fluid...OH the stupidity. And here, we are well aware of the hazards. I am of Hispanic and Mediterranean descent and I tan no matter what, so knowing that,I use 50 spf plus and try to stay out of the sun...even when I'm at the hubby and daughter who are lighter skinned than me...are even more diligent. Let this be a lesson for can still have fun and be smart...all at the same time. Thanks for the this important post mizzie. Stunning earrings too!


  2. Loving your new layout! So pretty! And myself and my kids are ALWAYS in sunscreen. I don't take any chances in the SPF department!


  3. Wow I am sorry to hear about this. You know I used the baby oil/iodine too, when I wasn't using just nothing, and would lay out all day as long as there was sun and just bake, and this was in Texas. I am surprised I don't have it too.
    I just saw on TV the other day tho where they were saying now that sunscreen actually accelerates or causes skin cancer. So it is so confusing.


  4. Certain types of sunscreen might accelerate it..for instance, thsi 50 SPF stuff is ridiculous unless you have albinism..people need a certain amount of Vitamin D ("the sunshine vitamin") and by completely coatng yourself you are blocking it's absorption..women in burkas tend to live far shorter more unheathy lives because they do not absorb the goodness around them..
    Staying well away from certain brands with harsh chemicals might be good idea..they themselves might exacerbate the possibility..but every doctor I've spoken to regarding this says the same is the overexposure to the sun yo get in childhood and teen years that casues the most damage..and those of us who should "tan" the least are nfortunately the ones most suseptible..I am very pale with blonde-red hair..the worst type for this affliction, so the fact that I worked out in the fresh air for 20 years may seem wonderful, but A)it wasn't real fresh, B) lots of harsh sun, harsher (because closer to the sun) North of the 49th (Canada)

  5. Pardon the spelling, it's early here...

  6. Sometimes I would peel so bad, I could literally peel off a sheet of skin like just grabbing it on my chest area and pulling it downward, from sunburn.


  7. I can remember that myself, Puss..I walked around looking like a map, with big outlines of pink peeled areas next to tan ones..a badge of honour then..stupid, stupid, stupid..but, again, who knew?