Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Okay To Enjoy It. Safely, Of Course.

As someone who annoys people by seeing the silver lining out of every situation, and gets annoyed at those times when other people cant seem to do the same, even when pointed out at them... I really struggle with the ability to find the silver lining with melanoma.  Yes, in my case, I was blessed and caught it early, and was able to remove it by surgery.  I am so thankful for that every day.  I need, though, to find a way to turn this thing that has affected so much of my life and the way I view things, into a positive and essentially pay it forward, hopefully before someone else hears the same words I did.  

Last week while waiting for my biopsy results (negative, by the way!!) a very strange thing happened. It was 70 degrees for a few days that week. I had errands to run. Remember I am struggling with my love for the way the sun makes me feel when it touches my skin. It is warming to my soul, as if God is touching me and soothing me with that light. In the winter, I miss that sunlight, I truly believe in seasonal affective disorder. Since my diagnosis, the sun has become so bitter sweet. I still love it, and I walk outside and begin to soak it up, but then I realize that it is dangerous, I dont like that at all and I struggle with it in a major way.

Well, I decided that last week, since it was going to be 70 degrees, I was going to embrace it. Safely, of course. I was also going to remind my friends and family to do the same. My facebook status said "Going to slop on some sunscreen & enjoy the day today. It's going to be 70 degrees! :D" And you know what? I did. I spent two days running errands. I chose to shop at the outdoor mall instead of the indoor one. When I got there, I got out of the car and stood outside to finish my phone call before going into the store. I loved being able to walk around in jeans and a t-shirt.  I actually trusted my sunscreen. Okay, I always trust my sunscreen, but that day I wasn't looking down for signs of extra freckles every chance I got.  I allowed the sun to energize me, I am a Leo after all.  And it worked.

When I got home each night and took off my make up, which contains SPF 30, which I wear over a SPF 35 moisturizer.  No extra freckles! No pink skin!  No farmer's tan on my arms! No V-neck tan!  Needless to say day two and three followed suit.  

I think I crossed a bridge.  It is okay to safely enjoy the sun and wonderful weather as we go through our daily routines.  We just need to make sure we are protected and we are smart about it.  Yes, it is dangerous, but we have to go about our lives, and remember that moderation is key.  We need to remember the sun safety rules  about reapplying sunscreen, seeking shade, avoiding the peak sun hours.  

I know that this probably crosses some lines.  I have been avoiding life, avoiding outdoor scenarios, even felt guilty for doing a skin cancer 5K because it was in the blazing hot June sun.  I have been missing out.  I know that my life depends on it, but what is life if I cant enjoy it??  I need to find balance, for myself.   

When I saw that new dermatologist, something clicked.  I realized that he wasn't telling me to avoid the sun, he was telling me to be safe about it.  Even as the nurse bandaged my arm, she asked if I was putting sunscreen on my scar each day.  I told her that I was, that when I put my facial moisturizer on, that it had a SPF35 and that I would take some extra and put it on my scar right then.  She wasn't saying keep it out of the sun, just protect it.  

I also skimmed over a blog post, I will talk about it more soon, when I have time to actually sit and read the entire thing.  I drew one thing from that post, nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, next year, 50 years from now.  Even those of us who were lucky enough to have caught our melanoma early, aren't given any more guarantees on life than those who caught it later.  Yes our percentages are higher, but they aren't 100%.  I don't want my kids to miss out on days at the park or pool, because I am scared of the sun.  I remember a family member talking about her dark tan, because she and her kids had lunch at the pool each day.  I WANT to have lunch by the pool each day too, not for the tan, for the experience and memories, but for 2 summers now, my overpriced neighborhood pool membership has been used maybe 5 times.  

So I am making a resolution now.  I will use that membership.  I will go to the park.  I will enjoy the outdoor fountains.  I will do so safely.  I may not get the opportunity to talk to moms about sun safety at moms groups.  I actually highly doubt that I will get that opportunity. but there are other options.  We can have lunch by the pool, under the pavilion or at an umbrella table.  We can show up at the fountains with a pop up canopy.  I can use my daughters understanding of the need for sunscreen to set an example, and when we reapply, I will offer it to others around me.  I will have extra sunscreen cans and offer it to those who don't have them.   I can use this all as conversation starters.  

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