As I sit here in pain, yes real live my face is burning intensely and I want to rip it off type of pain, I keep thinking about my past and all the UV exposure my skin has had. I am an intelligent person who has made some poor decisions in life, the “I am human” factor. But one of the decisions I regret the most as an adult is exposing my fair skin to that bright yellow disk in the sky.
The decisions I made as an adult were often motivated by how and when I was raised. I was born in the late 50’s, a decade when there was no such thing as sunscreen. A blend of baby oil and mercurochrome were the recipe of the day to rub all over your body for that “healthy” tan. My mother was a true sun goddess and like all new moms of that time, she taught me early how to lay out by the pool for that sexy tan.
**My mom the sexy sun goddess in her teens**
**Me, her first born absolutely LOVING the fact my little fair-skinned body was working on a tan.**
**What do you do when a baby gets all fussy in the hot sun? Why you roll them over onto their belly so they can get an even tan.**
I am not blaming my mother for my bout with skin cancer, however the fact I now have it is due to my early years of severe exposure without protection that has damaged my DNA and triggered the “little nasties” to grow right about now. Several other factors worked against me. I grew up at a high altitude where UV rays were more intense. We spent most of our early years in the outdoors hiking, climbing, swimming, skiing, etc. without any sunscreen.
**Spending summers in my grandparent’s pool without sunscreen was probably not a bright idea either. But there wasn’t any back then.**
I was also born of that fair-skinned, green-eyed, freckled-faced Irish ancestry that simply doesn’t handle the sun too well.
**My mom, little bro and myself in all our fair-skinned glory.**
As I grew older I definitely had a hand in helping to add to my skin damage. In my college years I hit the tanning booths, floated on big inner tubes down rivers all day long in the hot summer sun drinking beer with my friends, lay out on rooftops slathered in baby oil so I could keep up that “sexy” tan (you know, the one I never had), and continued to ignore the dangers they were finally beginning to whisper about in the papers because that would NEVER happen to me.
Then what did I do? Why I turned right around after giving birth to my own fair-skinned son and exposed him to the same harmful UV rays with little protection. Fortunately they had invented sunscreen by then and I did use it on him when I remembered.
**Me and my son kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico (both hatless) where the sun was so intense I would break out in hives from too much exposure.**
I guess my point here with this post is that skin cancer is preventable if you take the proper precautions to protect yourselves. For some of us who grew up with that intense exposure during times when protection wasn’t encouraged, we will and are unfortunately suffering the consequences in our later years.
For those of you who have been blessed with parents who kept you out of both the sun and tanning beds, consider yourselves lucky and please continue to do the same for your loved ones.
For those of you who still choose to deny and ignore the warnings, I wish you the best of luck. Skin cancer is real. It is not pleasant. It is not as simple as just cutting it away and moving on with your life. You will always be waiting for that next one to appear. And in some cases it will spread and kill you.
Trust me, soaking up those rays to get that “healthy” tan truly isn’t worth the suffering of trying to reverse the damage.