Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Tanorexia Days

I had not heard the term "Tanorexia" until "Tan Mom"  Patricia Krentcil, made her debut for allegedly taking her 5 year old daughter into a tanning booth with her.  I started hearing more about tanorexia.  Tanorexic people don't think they are tan enough, and are always wanting to be tanner.  They tend to over tan.  Sometimes more than once a day.  Tanning makes them feel good and it is addictive.  They justify it and some even laugh in the face of death by saying, "At least I will know what I am dying of."  or  "At least I will look good when I am dead." It started making sense to me.  I had been tanorexic. I made excuses, and I felt like people were trying to take away something that gave me pleasure.  After a long day at work, it was my 12 minutes of relaxation.  I felt amazing after I walked out of the tanning salon.  I was sure I looked amazing, just like all the photos, and ads told me, because I was tanning!

Patricia Krentcil "Tan Mom"

I never thought or associated tanning with death.  I honestly thought that I would not get skin cancer. Dark hair and eyes, no family history, tanned, I signed my life away at the tanning salon because it said "risk of skin cancer."  It didn't say "in 1 year you will be diagnosed with something called Melanoma, and you will have surgery,pain,fear and guilt for the rest of your life.  You will make a lot of new friends and some of them will die.  Others you will watch fight and go through pure hell just to live.  Some are so young."  It never told me what I was REALLY signing up for.  So I signed and I tanned until I was a crispy shade of dark brown.  I was happy.

I have a ton of guilt for what I have done to myself, and for telling my daughter that she was too pale and she should start laying out to become tan.  (Mom of the year award there!)  So glad she didn't like to do it though.  (Whew!  Smart kid!)

My friend, Chelsea, said it best,

 "I try not to beat myself up too much because what is done is done, and all I can do is share my experience with others in hopes that they will make better decisions than I did, but I REALLY regret my tanning days on result day. Protect the skin you're in." 

 She posted this as she was going to get results of her latest scans. (Which showed NED by the way!  Yay!)

I also deeply regret my tanning days and can relate to her post so much.  We can't go back, so therefore we tell our stories, share photos, participate in trials, spread the word every chance we get, do interviews, see our dermatologist, bond and fight together and try not to go completely mad because we can't see what is going on inside our bodies.  We are helpless that it could come back when we are told we are NED.  It is all so not worth a tan. 

 I have been going through old photos for my daughter's upcoming grad party next month.  I have come across some photos that literally make my skin hurt!  This one in particular stood out.  It was taken on July 4, 2010.  6 months after I started using tanning beds, and had actually stopped for the summer for about 4 weeks.  It is embarrassing to me now. Back then, I am sure I thought I looked good.

Why?  Why was I so dark and crispy, and thought I looked good??  My kids look normal and I look so bad!   The words from my step dad echo in my head. "You are getting kinda dark."

I hated it when he would say that.  It wasn't the first time he had.  He knew not to come right out and tell me not to tan, because I would have gotten mad (and I still would have anyway!) Stubborn is my middle name! He would just tell me in a round about way because was worried about me.  Almost 2 years later, he went in for a check on a spot on his nose that kept bleeding.  He had a basal cell carcinoma removed from the bridge of his nose and it left an indent.  The man that used to slather on so much sunscreen to mow the lawn, he looked like Casper the ghost, was not invincible. He thinks it happened way before the days when he started taking care of his skin and using sunscreen.  (He was a life guard and used to race sailboats in his younger years.)  

 Here is another gem.  

  All I can say is WTF??  I remember talking to Kevin later and told him, "Wow, look how pale you are?"  He tried to tell me I was too dark.  How could he possibly love someone that looks like this?  SMH.  But he claims he does!  And I am grateful!

  • So there you have it.  My tanorexia days.  They were not my proudest.  It cost me a lot more than some bad pictures.  I have damaged skin and the fear EVERY DAY of a reoccurance, even though they say I am NED and caught it really early.  I have melanoma for the rest of my life. 
    I will now share the video of my interview last year for Melanoma Awareness month. 
     I really hope that more people realize that tanning is not pretty, it is damage, and it can cause skin cancer.  Melanoma. Fear.  Wrinkles.  Loss of elasticity of the skin. Premature Aging of the skin.  Fear.  Fear. And more Fear. 

                              It IS Cancer.

    Melanoma scar 2 days post op
    Melanoma scar almost 2 years post op
     So, please protect your skin and please protect your children's skin.  Trust me on this.  You do not want to deal with melanoma.  EVER.  Sharing in the hopes that you will listen. 

    Much Love,

    Melissa :)

1 comment:

  1. Another great post.

    I have learned one thing in life and that is - regrets are the mistakes we make. I was never a tanning bed gal- but growing up in the 80's- we didn't wear sunblock and we were naive in thinking a sunburn wouldn't haunt us later. Silly us.

    Keep educating-