On July 15th, 2010 I wrote a one-line entry in my journal. I wrote it at the top of a fresh page, and never wrote anything else below it.
I have melanoma.
A week later, I had outpatient surgery to remove a sizable chunk of skin from my stomach.
I was a lucky one.
It could have spread beyond the spot on my stomach, like to my lungs, my liver or my brain. But it hadn’t.
I was a lucky one.
But now I am one with a story.
And a scar.
Now I am one with a healthy fear, an acute awareness.
And a need to share.
I cannot believe I’m posting this. Umm…crap. Am I posting this?
Yes. Yes, I am. I really am. Ok…
This was me, one year ago.
Don’t let this be you, ok? Not one year from now, ten years from now, or fifty years from now.
Be the one, okay? Be the one.
If you’re not big enough to be the one for yourself, fine. Whatever. Then be the one for someone else.
Be the one that puts on their sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside.
Too much to ask? Fine. Then be the one that puts on sunscreen at all.
Be the one that hogs the shade, that worships the shade. Shade is IN, people!
Be the one that brings extra sunscreen on vacation for the others that will forget.
Be the one that’s willing to pay $25 for the teensiest bottle at the resort gift shop when you, yourself, forget.
Be the one that organizes the spray tan party – instead of the tanning bed party.
Be the one that is confident and intelligent enough to know that no one is immune.
Even if it’s not in your family.
Even if none of your friends have had it.
Even if you don’t have fair skin.
Be the one to brag about having a fancy dermatologist that you see regularly. Call them your cosmetic dermo or your plastic surgeon or something, I don’t care. And I promise I won’t tell.
Be the one that checks your spouse or significant other.
Be the one that wears a hat. If you need a hat, I have one you could borrow.
Ok, so maybe I have thirty you could borrow. Details schmetails.
Be the one that makes it a habit.
Be the one that’s confident enough to agree that pasty is cool, dude.
Be the one that has a collection of a dozen bronzers in her makeup bag.
Be the one that yells at your friend every month for over two years to call her dermatologist and make an appointment for a check-up because you keep saying that you know you need to go but just haven’t gotten around to it and you just keep forgetting and what was the doctor’s name again I’ve already forgotten?
Ahem. Thank you, my dearest and loveliest friend. Without you, I…I…I don’t want to think about it.
Be the one that says thank you to that friend when you do finally go to see her dermatologist, find out that you have melanoma, and that you’ve caught it early.
And don’t forget to say thank you to that friend every day for the rest of your (potentially much, much longer) life.
Be the one, okay? Just…do it.
The moral of this story? WEAR SUN SCREEN.
Over and out,
The Shade Worshipper
This post brought to you by Annie’s skin cancer war wounds. And
thirteen fourteen tubes of Mederma.
***To help spread the word about the dangers, and easy ways to prevent, malignant melanoma, please watch this short video.
***To learn more about melanoma and to find a dermatologist in your area, please visit The Skin Cancer Foundation at skincancer.org.