May Skin Cancer Awareness Awareness Month -What It Means To Me
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month and as so many work to bring the importance of sun safety and early detection to the forefront of everyone’s mind, I would like to tell you about one of the reasons it matters to me.
As tanning beds are warming up for their pre-summer rush, I’m going to take a trip down memory lane, to 1994, my friend Jenna and I were preparing to take our first adult road trip, from CT to Boston. At 18, this was scary and exciting, we had never driven into the city! We rented a car, a most fabulously awful, Dodge Shadow from a local repair garage. When we finally arrived in Boston, I remember promising- If we make it out of this city alive, I’ll never EVER drive here again. That is one significant part in my memory from that trip.
My other prominent memory, the one that would ultimately be the risk to our lives, is that we went tanning a week earlier. Because you had to have a tan to be "pretty" and tanning beds were safer than the sun! Or so we thought…
In the tanning salon, I went into the disgusting bed for 5 minutes, my pasty complexion wouldn’t be able to tolerate any more. My friend Jenna, who lacks even more pigment than I, was given the same death sentence. When I emerged from my potentially cancerous 5 minutes, I expected my friend would be out too. But she wasn’t and as the minutes passed, I asked the front desk to check her bed, which was still running. Another few minutes and I started screaming at the woman behind the desk to turn it off. It was nearly 20 minutes and a third degree burn by the time it was over. The following day, when she was blistering, I called the tanning salon to express my horror and they offered us free tanning to make up for the burn! This is where my passion to eliminate these death beds began.
I’m frustrated that in 2016, we continue to use these machines, believing they "aren’t that bad". They are still showcased with “health and fitness” and in some cases, your Health Insurance provider, will actually reimburse you for a gym membership that includes tanning.
Think on that for a minute. Does that make any sense to you?
Jenna is now a Mom to Zack & Grace. Gracie is my Goddaughter and when I think about her growing up and going off to college, I don’t want her to be one of the 59% of college students who has used a tanning bed. I don’t even want them to be an option because frankly, I know all too well about the stupid choices her mother and I made when we were young. For her and for every other beautiful young woman, I want them to grow up into a safer & healthier world than we did.
Please go get your skin checked and use sun protection daily!
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