Let me go back...I have always been a sun worshiper; I love the sun. I sun bathed with tanning oil, lotion and even baby oil some days. I took spring break trips, summer vacations and tanned in the tanning beds during the winters. I always loved a sun kissed glow; even though it didn't love me. I remember getting burnt all the time- that was how I could tell I would get tan. I got burnt, then the tan would come a couple days later. I loved summer...I could lay out all day and read a whole book. Times have changed.
I have always gone to the dermatologist once a year for annual check ups but haven't since we moved to Indiana. I am always healthy, rarely sick and haven't even been to the family doctor in years. Well I noticed a mole on my chest when I was pregnant with Emerson that was unusual. It was getting bigger and darker. When I showed my OB she suggested I go in immediately and get it removed; You don't have to tell me twice. I was able to get in that next week and got it removed...it was what came next that changed my life.
My doctor called me directly and asked me to come in immediately; I knew from that moment it wasn't a good situation. Once he was able to talk to me he told me the mole came back and it wasn't good....it was Melanoma. I swear that is all I heard in the whole conversation. I went numb. Melanoma, cancer? Really? He said we caught it early but the next 5 years will determine my fate. 90% of melanoma stage 1 survivors are alive in 5 years. Okay, what about the other 10%? To think about cancer and not being around for my daughters scared me. It totally freaked me to say the least.
Once I did my excision, they removed a couple more moles. Those came back Displastic (pre cancer); I had to have more excisions on those. I am going on my 4th excision in one month and it doesn't stop there. Every 3 months I have to get a full body exam where I sit on the chair and two of them examine every inch of my body. Melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer killing one person ever hour. They say I'm one of the lucky ones....
This has been a lifestyle change for me. I wear sunscreen, all the time. It's in my moisturizer, my makeup, my lotion, everything. I wear spf clothing and cover up all the time in the sun. I seek shade on all occasions or wear hats it I can't have shade. To say cancer changed my life is an understatement. Most people think Melanoma is "just skin cancer" but they just aren't educated. 1 out of 4 melanoma cases come back, and she attacks hard- goes right for the lymph nodes and organs. Most people wont know it came back without PET scans. Again...I'm one of the lucky ones.
I wouldn't say I feel sad. I don't. I feel mostly guilt. Why didn't I know that tanning caused skin cancer? Why didn't I protect myself in the sun? How could I have been irresponsible with my skin care and now I am paying the ultimate price? It seems like once my family is up and in good spirits, something else comes knocking our way. God only gives you things you can handle...right? I'm beginning to wonder.....
My goal is to educate people. You can still lay out in the sun and be protected; you DO get sun tan through sunscreen. The SPF will just block the harmful rays and the rays that cause aging. Absolutely do NOT go to the tanning bed- use the spray tan if you want to look tan. My future is bright and I plan to be around to see my girls get married; I will not let my love for the sun take over my judgement to take care of myself. I will be pale. Besides look at these celebrities....Pale is the new Pretty!