Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You


I was reading one of my new favorite blogs tonight, Whispering Sweet Nothings, when I was inspired to write a similar blog post. Shane talks about how as bloggers we tend to only show the world the best of ourselves. We sugarcoat shit. Sometimes we say what we think you want to read. Sometimes we act like things are more perfect than what they really are. Sometimes we act like we aren't afraid. Sometimes we preach. Shane was brave enough to share some of her most personal feelings, so I thought I would share a few secrets of my own that I may hold back. (Some because I don't want a full inbox of hate mail! :0)

 I still miss the worry-free feeling of sunshine on my skin  I grew up at the beach. Many of my childhood memories involve a beach. Almost every major vacation involved a beach. The first summer being back home after being diagnosed with melanoma, I didn't know what to do with my free-time without spending my days at the beach or in my parents pool. I still miss getting up fairly early, grabbing a book, a bottle of water, and maybe some SPF for my face and shoulders, and not worrying about anything else until it was time to head inside many hours later. There were no big hats, umbrellas, select hours I should be in direct sunlight, or the absolute fear of a sunburn. 

I really do think your fake-and-bake tan looks horrible and cheap. I'm not just saying that because I have melanoma and can't get a tan. I truly, honestly, most definitely think that your skin should not be that shade of leather.

I had to remove myself from 2 different melanoma groups. I try to be supportive of everyone. I have a true desire to be a supporter of others and meet as many folks as I can within the melanoma community. However, I came to the conclusion that I could not completely obsess over this cancer. I couldn't have my Facebook newsfeed be nothing but articles about melanoma, latest updates about melanoma, and melanoma patients fighting with each other about something the other one said. I needed a break so I removed myself from two of the groups I belonged to. 

I do not regret removing myself from melanoma groups. I love my Molemates. I cheer with them when they get great news, I cry when they receive the news none of us want to hear. Having said that, I also have to look out for my emotional well being. Removing myself, deleting certain Facebook friends from my personal Facebook page, etc,  was what I needed to do for myself. Despite the hate mail I received it wasn't an attack against anyone else. It doesn't make me any less of a melanoma supporter. It doesn't make me a bitch. It makes me a girl who knew I was letting the internet have too much control over my emotional health. If you still think that makes me a non-supportive bitch, oh well.

I sometimes don't wear sunscreen. Before you freak out, read what I have to say. My face products have sunscreen in them. My hand lotion has sunscreen in it. I work in a basement of a hospital that has absolutely no windows. I walk outside for just moments to get to and from my car. I'm usually in long pants/skirts and a long sleeve sweater/cardigan. (It's negative 20 degrees in there, always.) My skin is always covered. If I spend any additional time outside, or know that I am going to spend additional time outside, I always wear sunscreen. I have multiple bottles in my purse. Don't shoot me. 

I become such a brat before oncology appointments. I'm not lying when I tell you that you're better off just not to talk to me the day I get scans. Just wait until I receive the results. Scanxiety makes me such a little brat. You've been warned. (And I apologize now.)

I am curious about getting a spray tan. A local spray tan salon here in Roanoke recently sprayed the Miss Virginia candidates. I saw her post on Facebook and mentioned that it would be great to interview the owner for my blog. I'm curious how she got into the spray tanning business and if there was a reason behind it. Since then I've been wondering if documenting a spray tan would be good material for my blog; however, I think it totally goes against the message I'm trying to send: Embrace your natural skin tone and look pretty doing it! (My decision about the spray tan still hasn't been made. It would be a one-time thing.)

I hate being in the room with a lot of people when I get scan results.  Receiving bad news is terrifying. Having to look over and see how your family is reacting to bad news is heartbreaking. I never want my family to experience that again.

I get a little peeved when people say I have skin cancer. I have melanoma. It's aggressive, deadly, and a sneaky little bitch.

I never respond to blog comments. But it's not because I don't read them or don't want to respond! It's because I don't have the slightest clue how to do so! I try, but I always fail! *I am going to work on this and figure out how to respond so please make sure you sign in with your Google account or leave an email address where I can get back in touch with you!!!!*

When are we going to start trying for babies?  Please, why do people still think it's OK to ask that? (This is now my promise never to ask anyone else that question ever again.) I've always wanted to be a mom. I think I grew up knowing that was the one role I most definitely wanted in life. When the doctor says it's OK, if the doctors says it's OK, I pray there will be babies. And trust me, I'll annoy you so much with pictures and posts, you will wish you had never wondered when we'd have kids.

I don't care that you got a sunburn. Don't worry about what I'll think.  Worry about reapplying your sunscreen next time.

I love my 'real life' more than I love my melanoma blog.  I know that I'm pretty much the crappiest blogger lately. I post once or twice a month. I don't update you on the latest drugs, the most recent articles, I don't share like I used to. But here's the thing: I work full-time for a hospital in a job that leaves me tired and sometimes grumpy. I'm a newlywed wife who actually likes her husband, I'm a step mom to a kid we see for 7 days and miss for 7 days, I babysit 5-6 nights a week during the weeks we don't have my step son, I enjoy cuddling with my dog and reading some silly romance novel. I am enjoying my life. I have melanoma. I'm thankful every single day that Melanoma is not my life.

My melanoma blog I'm denying saved me during my darkest days. I didn't want to talk about the seriousness of what I was going through. I didn't know how to tell people without downplaying it or making a joke. I was completely shutting down. I am so thankful my mom recognized this and advised me to write. She saved me from a severe depression and many hours in therapy.

I'm already fearing the comments I'm going to get about sunscreen. If a body part is exposed for more than 10 minutes per day, it has sunscreen on it. I promise.

What are some things you keep to yourself?



*Although Shane doesn't have the slightest clue who I am, thank you, Shane, for inspiring me tonight.*




11 comments:

Kelly said...

I LOVE the one about deleting yourself from groups... I did the same and deleted some people as well.. thought it made me a bad person. I pick and chose melahomies now and I cringe when I read some posts on certain sites.. some people want to rain on EVERYONES parade because a treatment didn't work for them or a loved one.. that's when I had it!! I really enjoy your FB posts and blogs. Thank you SO MUCH for all you do! :D

Strong Steph said...

Chelsea, you ROCK!! Keep being real you're an amazing advocate for melanoma!!

Mark said...

Love your posts my friend. #Warrior #Hero

Megan Schroetel said...

Loved this post!

I also had to remove myself from certain groups and people. I felt bad about it at first but it was bringing me down.

I won't judge you for the sunscreen thing and keep being you!

Cindy Devereux said...

Thanks. This is a wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chelsea

Thanks for being ‘real’ and sharing your thoughts. I too am a melamona stage III survivor and just wanted to suggest that you don’t get too hung up on sun exposure. The sun is not the enemy and everyone needs to have around 10-15 mins of uninterrupted sunlight per day to get healthy levels of vitamin D. Yes you can buy supplements but it’s never as quality as the natural source. Lack of vitamin D is actually a risk factor for many cancers (there are so many studies out - just look it up) including melanoma. There are also studies out there contributing fluorescent lighting and electromagnetic fields to melanoma so the sun should not be made the scapegoat.

All the Best and im glad you are protecting your emotional health – another important factor for cancer survival.

Amber

Lisa Hanley said...

Hi Chelsea,

I never told anyone this, but the first thought I had when my oncologist told me that my chance of living 10 years was only 50% was that my 3-year old cat had a really good chance of outliving me. And I don't know why, but that really pissed me off.... weird, but my head was pretty messed up after that news.

But then my 2nd thought was that I might not see my 8-year old son graduate from high school and that just made me really sad. I've gotten over resenting my cat, but when I make it to my son's graduation I'm just going to cry buckets and buckets (and nobody except for my melahomies will understand why)

And I love ALL of your posts... and I love that you have a life too. :-)

ChristaMc said...

Chelsea,

Thank you so much for your honesty! I know how hard it is...for most people lol Being in a similar position to you, I understand the fear of criticism and lack of understanding. I'm ALL ABOUT sun protection and actually DO get annoyed when I see some people get a burn (especially those close to me), but I'm also a fan of tan. I agree with you that many, if not most, are unnatural looking and simply an odd color, but I've found a self-tanner that I love and use frequently, St. Tropez. I get it on QVC, but it's also sold at Sephora. Trying a tan or being tan does not make you a hypocrite! Since the world at large has tons of options as far as sunless tanning, and the world at large enjoys having a tan, then SUNLESS is the way to go!! Not for nothing, wearing sunscreen faithfully even allows skin to tan some without a burn. My husband is a softball player and love his golf. He applies his sunscreen and does it often, but does still get a lovely tan, just no burn with his sunscreen.

Keep on keepin' on, my friend!! Happy Summer!

Anonymous said...

Chelsea,

My oncologist recommended that I quit all melanoma groups and go on with my life, He said that if I am going to listen to everyone's horror stories that I will worry all the time about when and how mine will return, He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You have a 90% chance your melanoma will not come back, it has been 3.5 years that you have been cancer free, so go be free of cancer".

Ken Billett said...

Chelsea,

You sound - incredibly - just like me. I still keep up with melanoma groups, but only once a week or once a month at the most. And I'm an incredible brat before I go - and during, too - to the cancer clinic. I just don't want to be around "those people," even though I am one of them, now.

I simple wish more of my friends would comment on my blog posts and email updates. I've stopped doing them - for awhile - because it seemed not worth it.

Keep writing and keep fighting!

Anonymous said...

Love this post!!