By Lauren Duffy
For those of you that know me, it’s no secret that I’m as white as they come. For those of you that don’t know me, just take my word for it… I’m kind of fluorescent. I don’t like to say I’m ‘pale’ because that word reminds me of sickness, but I am the first to admit that I have extremely white skin. But there’s a reason I’m so freakishly fair…
Well, two reasons actually. The most obvious is that my father is 100% Irish and my mother is extremely Irish, too. Fair skin simply runs in the family.. I was doomed at birth. But the reason that many people do not know is that I keep myself white on purpose and I don’t let myself tan or burn. Why? It sounds crazy in a world where girls in their teens and twenties value a nice tan glow, doesn’t it? But once you’ve seen both of your parents come face to face Melanoma, a tan or a sunburn is something you fear.
Melanoma is a skin cancer. Once it starts to spread, it spreads really really fast. My parents were lucky because they caught the cancer early and had it immediately removed. But for those who catch the cancer too late, they are given intense treatment and about 5 years to live. 5 years… that’s it. So now my parents face a lifetime of fear that the cancer will return and fear that if it does, they may not catch it in time. It’s a terrifying disease; a disease that I’m trying to avoid.
But this article isn’t about my family’s story, it’s about awareness. It’s a reminder that it can happen to you, your family, or your friends. It happened to my family, it could very well happen to yours. Melanoma strikes the most in young people who were careless about the sun in the past.. sunburns, tanning, and tanning beds can all give you the cancer. It’s not immediate, but it can and it may show up years after you get a bad sunburn. So to prevent yourself from facing the cancer later in life, you must start taking precaution now. How can you take precaution? Use sunscreen, wear hats, and don’t bask in the sun… It’s just not worth it.
Part of being healthy is being aware. Even in the dead of winter the sun is still shining, so you must be careful year-round. You’ll thank yourself later in life when your dermatologist tells you you have no sign of skin cancer.
But why bring up this topic now? Why not talk about skin cancer awareness in the Summertime when it’s the most important to be cautious? The reason is that last week I was sent a video that really hit home. It’s called “Dear 16-year-old Me” and it is a skin cancer awareness video. Just as the video says, it’s not about fear, it’s about awareness. Hopefully after seeing the video and hearing that this can hit you or your family just like it hit mine, you’ll reconsider frying your precious skin in the sun. It may look good now, but scars won’t look good later.
‘Stay healthy, stay happy’, stay careful, stay aware.