When I was a 12, my family went on vacation to the beach in Florida. This was the first time I had seen the beach! I remember my excitement when my feet first touched the sand! I couldn’t wait to put on my swim suit and get that golden tan I had seen on all the models and movie stars. After putting on my suit, my mom comes over to me with a big bottle of sunscreen. I said, “I don’t think so, I want a tan!” She begged, but I put up a fight. She had given up with putting sunscreen on me.
We played in the waves and sand all day long! I hadn’t even noticed that my skin was turning the exact same color of my swim suit: bright orange! As we were getting ready for dinner, I wasn’t feeling the best. My skin hurt extremely bad. My pale, freckly skin was no more. The entire night I heard my mother say, “I told you so, but you never listen.” Well needless to say that was my worst sunburn ever.
Over the years, I continued to tan and used minimal sunscreen, if any. I would tan in tanning beds and go the entire time not listening to the experts tell me to take it easy and to use lotion. Ha! I didn’t need lotion. I didn’t need to spend my money on stuff like that. Boy was I wrong!
I figured out how wrong I was in 2007 when I went in for a well-woman exam. My doctor had asked me about all of my moles and if I ever had any of them checked out. I said no, never thought about it. I had always had most of them so I paid no attention. She noticed a mole on my calf and said this one looks a little bit bigger. I think we should biopsy it just to be safe. Sure, do what you need I guess. She goes on to explain that I highly doubt it is anything, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
About a week had passed since the biopsy and I honestly had forgotten about it. I wasn’t concerned at all. The doctor said I shouldn’t be worried, so why would I? Then she calls. She says to me, “well, I am as shocked as you will be, but, you have the first stage of malignant melanoma.”
Umm… who? What? I had no clue what that meant. She tells me that it’s the worst kind of skin cancer because it is the fastest growing. She instructs me to come back in to biopsy even more of my skin. So they take a BIG chunk out of my calf. Thank goodness all the borders were clear of cancer.
After this experience I become the biggest advocate of sunscreen and protecting your skin. My close friends would say I am probably a bit annoying with making sure everyone is wearing plenty of sunscreen. I continue with my check ups every six months. I have had several other moles, nine more to be exact, removed. However, all benign.
In October 2010, I had to get another mole removed. I didn’t think it would be a problem because the last nine were fine. Sure enough, I get the same call I did in 2007. You have the first stage of malignant melanoma. This one was on my right ankle. 27 stitches later I am cancer free again.
I have become even more of an advocate for skin protection! However, I still want to be tan. So, I started spray tanning. Tried many brands and salons and was pleased with a few of them, not so much with others. Some left me very orange while others barely tanned me. Then I found Palm Beach Tanning!
My first time there was like tanning heaven! It was a beautiful place, with an extremely friendly staff. They knew everything! I was impressed. I went in for my first spray tan and walked out tan, not dripping wet and freezing. This was my place! I looked like I had just gotten off the best beach vacation!
Ladies and Mommas, listen up. If I had prevented sunburns when I was 12, I most likely wouldn’t have gotten malignant melanoma. If you learn anything from this story: take care of your skin and take care of your kid’s skin. Wear your sunscreen and lead by example. Preventing skin cancer starts at an early age. I know some of you are like me and like to be tan. Go see the experts at Palm Beach Tan. They will teach you the right and wrong way to tan. They will help you pick the right lotions for your skin. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.