Friday, July 2, 2010

The How And Why...

Some people don't understand how someone "gets" Melanoma.There are lots of cancers out there with no reason for the cause. Melanoma is not one of them. We know the cause.

When I was in High School, I was a tanner. I loved tanning. Was probably even addicted to it at some point. I tanned for proms, dances, weddings, graduation, etc. I liked being tan. It made me feel skinner and gave me more confidence. I tanned easily, so in theory, I really didn't need to tan in a tanning bed all that often. But, I did. Once I had reached my "plateau" with the regular tanning beds I switched to the high powered tanning beds. I remember a couple times in high school I tanned at one place in the morning and another in the evening. Like I said, I was addicted.

During the summer months in High School I babysat. We went to the pool most days. I always put the sunscreen on them, but I never put the sunscreen on myself. Why? Because I wanted to be tan! Duh!

I wish I could say that after high school I quit tanning and became wiser. But, unfortunately that is not the case. I tanned maybe once or twice a month in college (all my money went to beer!) But, a couple months before I was diagnosed I purchased a tanning package. I actually HAD MELANOMA at the time! I had no idea, of course, but still. How stupid. I am a smart, well educated woman, I should have known better. At this point, I wasn't addicted, I just wanted to be tan. I tried the spray tan, but quite honestly, it was expensive. Tanning in a tanning bed was much "cheaper." Ha! I laugh as I type that!

We know what causes Melanoma. UVB rays. UVB rays come from the sun and tanning beds. Even sunscreens don't block all the rays. Of course they help, but they are not 100%. If you are going to use sunscreens please make sure they are at least 50 SPF. I use 85 or 100SPF on my family. I figure the higher SPF the better.

I am hoping that through my story I have opened the eyes of some people. Hopefully some of you have started using sunscreen religiously. Hopefully ALL of you have STOPPED using tanning beds. Hopefully some of you have visited your dermatologist at least ONCE this year. I would love to hear how my story has opened your eyes.


  1. I have been following your blog for a while now, and I hope this is not an inappropriate question....
    Did you post a picture of the melanoma on a previous post? (I did look a little but did not see it). I know the best way to ease a worried mind is to go to the dermatologist. What were the characteristics that concerned you about your mole? (if it was a mole)
    Thank you for educating and sharing your story. I wish you and your family only the best.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I've been following your blog for awhile also. Because of your story I went to my dermatologist today and MADE him give me an appt to surgically remove 3 moles that have had me worried for some time. I have gone to him yearly for checkups because my mom had melanoma years ago, but he always says these moles are not worrisome yet and probably won't be but he won't say that they will never be cancer. After reading your blog and now having young children of my own I am playing it better safe than sorry and having those cut out now! Also, I'm about as white as can be but I have decided I don't care! I was never a big tanner but I always worried about it. Now I am content to just be natural, I'm not even going to try the fake stuff either- there are chemicals in that too.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing. Are you by chance going to be on the KSN news program sharing your story? I thought I may have seen a commercial for a story that sounded like yours.

    Also, to the previous poster- one time I heard the saying check for ABCs on moles. Abnormally shaped (not round), Bigger than a pencil eraser, and color (different colors, darker in the middle, etc.

  3. I have been following your blog for quite some time now.
    I also used to tan ~ a few times before summer and that's it. Just to get a little color! Ever since reading your blog I made the decision to never go tanning again.
    Thank you for sharing your story ~ you have opened alot of eyes and put a reality to the danger of tanning. You and your family continue to be in my prayers!

  4. I have to admit, I went to the dermatologist for the first time in years since reading your blog...I went just last week actually. I had a weird spot on my chest that turned out to be nothing, but I went ahead and had them do a wasit up check. My heart breaks every time I read your blog, but I am so very impressed with your strength and determination. You write "real" and I appreciate hearing the good, bad, and ugly. You're an inspiration.

  5. I also used to love tanning. Now, I love sunscreen! Today, I went to a pool party where I was definitely getting on everyone's nerves by, literally, forcing them to put on sunscreen. My brother brought his pick of the week over, and as he was introducing me I was rubbing lotion on her feet without even asking hahaha. I will gladly continue to be the annoying girl at the pool parties if it means I can help my friends stay healthy. Also, the host of the party works at a dermatologist office, so she always has my back! :)

  6. I can honestly say that because of your story I have been tan free! In high school and even after I would either bake myself in the sun (all afternoon) or in a tanning bed, I must admit that at times I did both. It is a very addicting habit..I felt sexy, prettier, skinner, and all my clothes "fit" better. Thank you so much for sharing your has made me stop and think about my own life, and these two beautiful little ladies I have been blessed with. You are in our prayers. P.S. KICK CANCERS A$$!!!

  7. I used to love to tan. Growing up in a small town it was the in thing! Every year even though it was never said out loud There was a silent competition as to who could be the most tan. I remember doing the same exact thing - Tanning in the morning before school after dance team practice and then, going again at another salon to do the EXAct same thing. I feel so honored to say you are my friend. I knew you before the big C. BUT because of your big C I now don't go in the sun without Sunscreen. I now think of what I've watched you go through and think of what I've learned from you.
    Thank you friend for being a tough ass mom who Definitely knows how to KICK The Big C's ASS!

  8. I've never tanned in a tanning bed, but as a kid, I did "lay out" with my friends in an attempt to get tan. By about 10th grade, I finally figured out that my skin doesn't just burns. Nice. I've been careful to wear sunscreen, but I know I can do better. I've had several spots removed over the years, and I see the doctor at least once a year. Although I've seen her a couple extra times since I met you...and they are ALWAYS more than happy to check me out as often as I want.

    Your story has inspired me to speak up to others about the dangers of tanning and the importantance of protection. No more muttering under my all comes out now. =)

    Keep up the fight, Heather!!

  9. Not sure if you know (or remember) me but I went to ESU and dated a friend of your husband's. Your story was shared with me this week as pure coincidence (she didn't know I knew who you were when she sent the video) from a friend and I was shocked to learn that you are going through this. I haven't been able to get you out of my head, or my prayers. I had decreased my tanning in the last few years, but had been tanning a bit for my sisters wedding this spring. After seeing your story I've made the decision to never step foot in another stupid tanning bed EVER again.
    I want you to know that God is using your story to help others. To make other people wake up and say "you aren't invincible" so you'd better take care of yourself and if you see something that raises concern then do something about it. I can only imagine the heartache and physical pain that this journey has brought into your life but with your journey you are a light of hope for those who know you or have learned about your story. Never stop fighting, you CAN AND WILL beat this.
    I shared your story on my own blog and I hope that it encourages at least ONE of my followers to think about their tanning habits the way that your story did for me. Never stop believing in the power of prayer!