Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Hardest Lesson I Have Learned

After everything I went through with melanoma, the hardest part of this whole journey has been realizing that I can't MAKE people stop tanning.  I have not been quiet about what I went through, nor have I been shy about showing my scars or posting pictures on my blog, or Facebook pages.  I have talked to others when they have asked me questions about melanoma, my surgery, and my prognosis.  I have comforted scared people that come to show me a mole that they are worried about and then watched them continue to tan.  At first, I thought that I was doing a great thing alerting everyone to the horror of melanoma.  I mean, they must not know, like me, how deadly it is!  I thought everyone that saw my pictures would never tan again.  I thought that they would research melanoma and skin cancer and find out what tanning does to their skin and stop tanning.  I thought tanning salons would end up going out of business, because, OH MY GOODNESS!  TANNING IS DEADLY!  IT CAUSES MELANOMA, WHICH IS NOT JUST SKIN CANCER!!  It didn't happen.  I watched my friends post about their sunburns and their vacations in the sun.  I saw their pictures of tanned or burned skin sometimes.  I was so upset and I didn't understand why they would keep doing that when they knew what had happened to me!  I took it very personal.  I thought that they just didn't care about me at all!  I was so depressed over it, but I never stopped posting things.  I even had a some people "de-friend" me on facebook.  I had others privately ask me if I was "ok", because I was taking it "WAY OVERBOARD".  I didn't care.  I felt like I HAD to get the word out!  I didn't know what tanning was doing to me when I was doing it, and I was trying, (as usual) to be the hero and save everyone and NO.ONE.CARED.  What hurt the most was when it was my own family.  I kept trying for quite a while and then I just said "FORGET IT!!"  If they all want skin cancer so bad, then so be it!!!!  I had a hard time throughout the summer seeing all the pictures and posts about tanning, and summer stuff.  I was a little jealous that they were having so much fun and I had just dodged a bullet.  My whole life had to change.  I could not even walk outside without going into a full-blown panic attack.  I was afraid for the sun to "touch" me.  I stayed inside a lot in May and June.  Then I realized that I was missing out on my life and I found a great sunscreen, lathered myself up and went to the zoo for the day with the family.  It was sunny and very hot that day.  I brought my camera and had fun taking pictures.  I didn't get a sunburn or even a little bit of a tan!  It was great!  Now I could BE outside and still enjoy things without worrying so much.  I sat in the shade all summer and it was the best summer ever!!   I didn't have to worry about not having time to tan.  Or that I wasn't dark enough.  I was FREE FROM THE TAN!!!    I haven't tanned outside or inside since November 2010 and I STILL can see tan lines a year later.  That is how dark I was and how much damage I did to myself. 

I am still upset when someone talks about tanning, or no one comments on my posts and  I always will be.  But, I know that I can't make people do what I want them to do.  It is a free country.  As much as I would love to see all the tanning beds in the world destroyed, I have come to terms with the fact that just because I had melanoma, doesn't mean that people will stop tanning.  It's ok.  Now I just pray for them.

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