|Enjoying the nice weather with my mom on Easter Sunday.|
Last week, we had a sunny Easter in Portland for the first time since I can remember. I was thrilled to get a break from the rain, to dust off my sunglasses, and to sit outside without a jacket for the first time in months. But with the nicer weather comes questions from my family and friends: Shouldn't you be sitting in the shade? Did you remember to put on your sunscreen?
Melanoma survivors (myself included) often describe having a love/hate relationship with the sun. I love BBQ-ing and eating outside on the patio, but I also worry about burning and putting myself at risk for more skin cancer.
Al at Black is the New Pink recently wrote a blog post that asks: Is anti-tan the same as anti-sun? I always enjoy reading Al's posts, but this one really resonated with me. After all, here I am testifying in support of a teen tanning ban in Oregon, and yet I'm tempted to tweet about the nice spring weather. Does this make me a hypocrite? Al's blog post helps reassure me that the answer is no. Here's a short except from his post:
"Those who have been adversely affected by the sun (whether it be from melanoma or aged skin) have every right to fear the sun. But for many, they’ve learned to respect it rather than fear it. They have learned that it’s important to wear sunscreen when enjoying the sun’s warmth. They know it’s best to seek shade between 10AM and 4PM when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. They know that wearing a hat provides additional protection. Believe it or not, they enjoy the sun very much. They embrace the sun. They also know the limits in which to enjoy and learned to respect it."Later this week, I'll be flying to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for my friend Jessica's wedding. I'm excited--obviously--but to be honest, I'm also a little nervous. What if my pale skin makes me stand out like a sore thumb on the beach? What if I miss a spot with my sunscreen and end up with a nasty burn? I've finally come to terms with being "pretty in pale" in my rainy hometown, but what happens when I travel to the Carribean?
Interestingly, a study published earlier today found that 1 in 4 skin cancer survivors does not use sunscreen, and that a small percentage of melanoma survivors continue to use tanning beds. I can't explain this, but there's definitely a part of me that understands. Despite the fact that I've stocked up on sunscreen and bought a new hat to protect my skin on this trip, almost every person I've told about my vacation has said to me, "Oh my gosh! I'm so jealous! You're going to come back so tan!"
It would be so much easier to just lay out in the sand and not worry about what the sun was doing to my skin, but knowing everything I know now, knowing everything I've been through, and knowing young women who have died from the same type of cancer I had--it changes things. I won't ever not be able to worry about it. I'm sure I'll have plenty to share when I get back. Including reviews on about five different brands of sunscreen!
Don't forget to enter my Fitbit giveaway while I'm gone :)