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.