Monday, November 12, 2012

A Punch In the Stomach

While browsing through some of my old boxes of books last night I found an item that I used to carry around in my purse. I knew that if I wanted a spontaneous session, my eyes would be safe. I would have lotion in my car, these babies in my purse, and I was good to go.

Tanning goggles.

 I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. No lie. I thought I was going to puke while standing there in my sister's basement holding the dusty eye protection. The worst part was remembering how sometimes I would go without the eye protection for a few minutes to avoid tan lines. Man, I made some stupid decisions and I don't have a person to blame but myself.

After walking upstairs I sat down and started browsing through one of the books I found. Flipping through the pages, I read this passage: 
"Something really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that,
if I had a choice, it would never have been changed at all. 
And what I learned from it is what, today, sometimes seems to be the hardest lesson of all.

I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal,
and that today is the only guarantee you get.

I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back, because
I believed in it completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned, even though so many people may have thought I sounded like a Pollyanna."
-Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life

I needed to read that passage at that very moment. It may have taken a horrible thing happening to me before I started living life the way I am meant to live, and that includes sharing my story with people around the world, but I really am happy. No amount of regrets will change my situation which is exactly why I can't allow myself to get caught up in them.

Oh, and you would think I would toss those goggles in the trash, right?

Nope. They'll go with me to the next speaking event, hopefully located in a high school!


Anonymous said...

I applaud you for getting out there and spreading your message. People need to realize this isn't something to brush off like it's no big deal.

Kait said...

You keep your head high Chelsea! XOXOX

Melissa S. said...

Amazing. I still have mine as well, sitting on my shelf. As you know, my dad was the one with melanoma (as was his sister, who survived, and their mom as well), and before he was diagnosed, I used to indoor tan. I still have my goggles, lotion, and business card as a reminder of how far I have come since then. My dad's diagnosis was a HUGE wake up call. I quit tanning around 4 months before his diagnosis, mostly due to the fact that I was too sick to drive to the tanning place with my best friend. When I was in the hospital for 3 weeks in December 2011 I remember thinking that if hospitals had tanning beds, I'd be totally set because Vitamin D is just what a sick girl needed. YEAH. I was 24 years old...not my brightest moments.

After my dad got sick, I found your blog and not only did it help me cope with my feelings, fears and confusion, but you opened my eyes to a world I was in denial from. My aunt and grandma both had it (and survived. My other aunt had another type of skin cancer as well) and my mom told me every time I'd tan that my grandma's huge scar on her arm and back were not going to go well with my tank tops and bikinis, but I shrugged her off. Like it was ever going to happen to me.

Now I know better. Now I know my risks, and how I have to get a full body check for new moles/growths/changes every 6 months. Now I know that SPF 80 is my friend, and that I can use my former ignorance and experience with my dad to inform other people of the truth.

You have inspired me in so any ways, Chelsea, and I know it sounds crazy but you are so amazing. THANK YOU for sharing your stories, your triumphs, and spreading awareness. I cry with you, I celebrate with you, and I am rooting for you every day!

Hang on to those goggles and I will pray that maybe somebody you speak to, whether it be one-on-one or at an event, will be forever changed for the better by your story.

If you ever come speak in Oregon I'll be there! I am doing a lot here with the local government and the American Cancer Society to change our tanning laws. We have a long way to go but I am going to be speaking with our governor early next year to discuss my ideas and where Oregon should start heading with its tanning laws and how effective it is to ban minors (18 and under, but ideally IMO it would be 21 and under) from tanning beds to protect themselves. We're making strides and you're the face of this amazing community of fighters and advocates!

Katie Wilkes said...

Mine were red. I found them while cleaning a few months ago. It's insane how a little piece of plastic can bring back such a flood of memories.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Thank you dear Chelsea.

*dana k* said...

Your amazing!!! i pitched the lotions (i was so ignorant during my youth) - seriously, was the use o "tingle" lotion necessary ... googles, even the after sun lotion in the trash when diagnosed with melanoma ... ur strong lady - i admire your strength and passion!!!

*dana k* said...

*~*~AmAziNg *~*~* pitched the stupid tingle lotions, googles which were seldom used, even the after sun lotion i slathered on to maintain my deathwish of a tan, the second i was notified of my dignosis. your strength and ability to hold yours for others to learn from is admirable lady !!! Thank you in advance for all the lives you will change with your story !!! You ROCK !!!