I spent yesterday at the Jersey Shore, Sea Isle City, to be precise. Instead of a traditional graduation party, Mer wanted to hang at the shore with her parents and some friends. Her dad and step-mom graciously offered the use of their house. Her dad took the Sat. night shift, and I turned up for the day yesterday. And yes, we had a blast – lots of laughs and food.
The weird thing was – I sat on the beach for several hours.
Why is this a big deal?
I am a survivor of melanoma. That is the really icky skin cancer that will kill you, if you don’t catch it early. I was lucky – I caught it early, which is why I am typing this instead of rotting in the earth. I was diagnosed in July 2002 and had the two icky pieces removed a few weeks later. I am now a vampire, afraid of the sun, sticking always to the shadows. This can be depressing. I’m always worried about being in the sun. I don’t swim in outdoor pools, or go for walks after 8 am. I garden on the shady side of the house.
Why did I get this? Nobody knows. I’m a fairly pale person – mostly English and Irish descent. I was never a sun worshipper because I burn easily. I did have a number of nasty, blistering, peeling sunburns as a kid. Doctors suspect that may have something to do with the development of the disease. The paler you are, the greater your chances of getting melanoma. And melanoma is the number one cause of cancer deaths of women ages 25-30. But anyone can get melanoma, even people of African descent. Please learn about this disease – information is power.
Like most everything else, it’s all about attitude. Since we took most of our kids with us on our honeymoon last year, we went to Universal Studios in Florida (I love roller coasters). A melanoma survivor in Florida in July?! It’s possible. I wore lightweight long pants, an incredibly dorky hat, and a special cover-up jacket, along with 40SPF sunscreen on my face and the backs of my hands. I hate having to dress up like the mummy to go outside and I really dislike gooping on sunscreen on hot, humid days, but those are cards I’ve been dealt.
And my beach day yesterday? The weather cooperated. It was cool and windy, so I was comfortable in jeans, sneakers, and a sweatshirt. And I wore a hat (hopefully not too dorky). Sunscreen was on my face and hands. Thank you slightly crappy weather for the great day!!