Monday, June 9, 2014

In My Face

There once was a gal who valued a tan. She tanned before prom, graduation, and vacations. She tanned before summer break so that she would get a "base tan." She tanned to make her skin, as society determined was the prettiest, bronzed.

Y'all know all of that. I have never denied my tanning history nor have I ever played the victim because of my melanoma diagnosis. I know I screwed up and made some really shitty decisions that I will forever pay for. 

 You don't have to be a radiologist to know you're not supposed to glow like that.

While I am all about protecting my skin, my family members skin, and encouraging others to do so via the Internet, I am not pushy about it in my every day life. I don't pass a sunscreen bottle around the bleachers at my step son's baseball game. (Although I cheered a little when someone else did.) I don't lecture my co-worker about her obvious burn. Unless you're friends with me on Facebook or stumble upon my blog, chances are you don't know I go to NY every 3 months to see my oncologist. Unless you already know about it, you can bet I don't share my melanoma story with you until I consider you a friend. That's just not how I am. I don't want to be that girl who is always yelling at the co-worker she barley knows about his weekend at the beach.

However, if you are friends with me on Facebook, you know I preach sun safety and my true hatred for tanning beds. I try not to be obnoxious, but I'm certainly aware that I probably am. ;-)

Having said all of that, I can't help but cringe when folks come up to me and say, "I thought of you this weekend. I said to my husband, 'Chelsea's going to get mad at me for getting a sunburn" or "You are going to be mad at me, but I'm going to go to the tanning bed just for a few times." I never know how to react because I want to keep the friendly and professional relationships, but I really want to be like "Whyyyyyyyyyyyy do you tell me these things?!" If I saw your sunburn--and I always see the sunburns--I would never say a word. If I noticed your obvious fake and bake sessions, you can bet I wouldn't mumble a sound about it. While I like to raise awareness, I know there is a time and a place for it. But throwing it in my face? Making a point to tell me the things you know I will get upset about? WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY?! Ahhhhh!

So I started thinking about it today. Let's say I had lung cancer. Would my associate come up to me and say, "I thought of you today when I bought a new pack of cigarettes"? Would the stranger I see once a month say, "I only smoke when I drink" as if that is an excuse for her bad habit? Or would that be in poor taste?

Am I supposed to just be like "Oh OK!" because it's just a tan? Big deal?

If UV rays from tanning beds are class 1 carcinogens, just like tobacco, why can we make excuses for our poor decisions just because we want to look good at the country club?

I make a point to keep my cancer outside of certain areas in my life, but when I hear these confessions, I can't help but speak up. Obviously these folks know their decisions are poor choices, yet they make them anyway. And really, that's on them. It's their skin, their biggest organ. (And yet, the sensitive girl buried inside of me can't help but feel the sting. You don't have to make better life decisions just because I got melanoma, but you could refrain from telling me about those decisions. I had to learn my lesson the hard way which is why I put time and effort into sharing my experience.)

Maybe next time, instead of almost asking for my understanding, they will apply the extra sunscreen and cancel the damn tanning membership.

A girl can hope, can't she?

*Disclaimer: This isn't about a particular event. These types of comments are made weekly. DisclaimerX2: You should know by now there's always a chance YOU will end up on my blog. ;-)


(And yes, I realize it's been forever since I've blogged. PLEASE FORGIVE ME. Life is good--yet very, very, very busy!) 


Anonymous said...

Very very well said!

Anonymous said...

Great rant! I just say, I dont expect you to learn from my mistakes- most children cannot. And the ones with a nose that looks like hamburger meat, I just mention my dad had a whole new nose.

SueSoo said...

Chelsea, as a survivor and melanoma warrior, very well written and my feelings exactly! I am going to share your blog.
Thank you, Susan Johnson

Ashlee said...

I feel the same way, even stronger, about young women in my class (I'm a teacher)...because I feel like they have been raised in a culture that should KNOW about sun damage. (My mom's generation? They put coconut oil on their skin and thought it was okay.) Keep fighting the good fight - we're with you!

Sarah said...

I always enjoy reading your blogs! I feel the same! Although I will say when it is a family member or close friend I find it more hurtful when they show up to a function and deny it, or act like I can't see it. Do they not realize I've known them their whole life?? I know they weren't born bronze! I'm still learning how to let it be and not get my feelings hurt. :( almost 3 years since my diagnosis and I still haven't figured that one out!!

Sarah said...

Always love your blogs! I feel the same except when it comes to close family and friends. I've been in many situations where they come up to me and tell on themselves or deny it completely. Don't they realize I've known them their entire life?! I know they weren't born brozne! Did my diagnosis not hurt them? Did they not feel like they could lose ME?! Almost 3 yrs since my diagnosis and I still haven't figured out how to not let this hurt my feelings.. thanks for all the awareness you share!