My daughter is a Senior this year and it has been such a busy/crazy year! She will be turning 18 in a few short weeks (!) and is working at a veterinarian's office. She is busy planning out her future (she wants to be a child psychologist!). She just got back from Spring Break in Myrtle Beach, which she paid for all by herself. I was hesitant about her going to a place known for partying, drinking, craziness without parents, and of course tanning everywhere. Isn't that what you go on Spring break to places like MB for? To tan and be on the beach in your bikini? She assured me that she would not be drinking, partying, or tanning. She just wanted to get away and have some fun.
I was nervous about letting her go, not so much about her being away from home (well, maybe a little!), but because I knew how hard it would be for her to not lay on the beach turning into a crispy critter like all the other kids going on spring break. In other words, I wouldn't be there to watch her. So, after I agreed that she could go, I bought her a ton of sunscreen and kept telling her how to reapply every 2 hours, and to avoid the beach between 10-4 and that sunscreen is not waterproof, the sand reflects the suns rays, etc.... she just smiled at me and would say, "I know, Mom."
When I picked her up from the airport, I admit, the first thing I did was look to see if she was burned/tan at all. And....she was not! Not even a LITTLE color! AND....she had a BLAST! I was beaming with pride. Her boyfriend was also not tan or burned at all. I was relieved, and I was so happy to hear about all the fun that they had. Think of all the time they could have wasted, laying on the beach, not to mention all the damage they would have done to their skin if they did! Years ago, I would have bought her tanning lotion instead of sunscreen. I would have taken her for a "base tan" so she wouldn't get burned, I would have told her she was too pale....:(
So, I guess melanoma has made me a better mother by rearing it's ugly head and teaching us the hard way to protect ourselves. It CAN happen to you. Regardless of your age, skin color, gender, etc. It doesn't care if you are graduating and have your whole life ahead of you. It just doesn't care.
She has Prom coming up and she is so excited about it. She has the dress, the shoes and the best accessory....her natural, beautiful, PALE skin! She looks stunning in her dress and I admit that even though I tried not to cry when she put it on, I did. I think of all that we have been through and all that we will go through together as a Mother and Daughter, and I am so grateful that we can.
I am very proud of my daughter for not being afraid to stick up for herself and to be herself. She admitted that she has been teased by other girls about her pale skin. It used to bother her after I was first diagnosed, even though she was never a tanner, but now she said she doesn't care what others think. She said that they are the ones that have a problem with her skin color, not her. I think they really have a problem with themselves. She wasn't given a choice about tanning, and she doesn't like to be told
what to do (like her Momma!). Once I was diagnosed, she was told she
will NEVER tan. It was had for her to accept that she could not be like the other girls.
She had to be extra careful because of ME. She blamed me for it at first. She and I have had so many conversations about melanoma and tanning. She also had to say goodbye to a good friend of ours that fought melanoma for years. She saw what melanoma could do first hand. I didn't sugar coat anything. She could have so easily been the one that was diagnosed with melanoma. I thank God every day that it was me and not her.
I look at my daughter and I know that she will never lay in a tanning bed, and her children will never lay in a tanning bed, and their children and on and on and on.....That will be my legacy. I changed that for us. And that makes it all worth it. Even though I won't be around to see it all, I will know that she will see to it that the cycle continues on.
So, melanoma, you will not win. You can't have me and you can't have my family. I think about how I was going to buy my daughter a tanning package for her 16th birthday almost 2 years ago. It is pretty ironic that the surgeon wanted to schedule my wide excision biopsy on her 16th birthday.
And 2 years later, she is tan free, melanoma free, and happier than ever.
So, for anyone that is reading this that may want to go on Spring Break to get a tan and probably get a sunburn and possibly get melanoma, or skin cancer to boot. Consider that life long damage that you are doing. Not only is there a strong possibility that you are causing cancer, you are also causing premature wrinkling and ugly age spots and other skin damage that will make you look way older than you are. Why would you want to do that to yourself? A tan fades, and the damage stays. Forever.