This is raw, it's emotional, it might not even make any sense. It is a vent. I just need to get this off my chest.
I am so thankful for the melanoma community. I feel like I sometimes live to separate lives. In one life, I am wife, mother, daughter, friend who had something wrong with her, got it fixed and now wont move on with life. In the other, I am a fellow melanoma and skin cancer warrior, 1.5 years NED, a small fry in the community, but sharing in the fight to get the word out. Although my only connection is through Facebook and blogs, I am so thankful for that connection to keep me from feeling like an isolated lunatic.
Last night was a perfect example of that.
In the afternoon, I was talking to my aunt. She watches Dr. Oz and I was telling her about reading all the statements in response to his show where he implied that tanning was a safe way to get vitamin D in the winter months. I told her that the American Academy of Dermatology had issued a statement and so had AIM at Melanoma. My son was sitting next to me throwing in comments about how stupid it was and that nobody should listen to a TV doctor anyway.
So last night, my dad and brother came over, and we took my son out for his birthday dinner. Once we got home, I was playing on my phone and saw that Dr. Oz had issued a statement in response to all the criticism. I told my son this, and my dad asked what happened. I told him a brief version of what happened and what Dr Oz had said. He said "Are you kidding me?" and went on to tell me that it was a crock and that tanning beds were safer, they don't even penetrate the skin, etc. When I told him I blame the tanning bed for contributing to my melanoma, he said that was ridiculous, that I spent so much time outside on the ball field and at the pool and lake. I said I don't completely blame it, but I do believe it contributed. He said there was no way that there are studies proving otherwise. I said that those were by the tanning industry. I said that with a tanning bed you are 74% more likely to get melanoma and tried to explain what the UVA and UVB rays do to the skin. I also said that there was a study saying that melanoma appears 15-20 years later, and that is exactly what mine did. Since he didn't buy that, I asked him how he could explain that my melanoma mole appeared while I was working at a gym where I used the tanning bed. He said that was all nonsense, that it was just my lifestyle at the ball field and all that. I asked him what he thinks of the statement that a tan is an indicator that the skins DNA has been damaged, and that it is like a scab protecting itself until it heals. He again said it was ridiculous. It got all heated. The real kicker was that he said he used to believe all that too, but then he did the research. He wanted to know where I was getting all this information, I said from the Skin Cancer Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology, World Health Organization, experts in the field, the list goes on. I told him that I trusted that more than any of the studies I had seen that all lead back to the tanning industry, who is out to make a buck, not save lives.
It was very heated, I was feeling very attacked. My brother was just sitting there watching us go back and forth. Then my son comes out with the whopper. "Who cares, let them tan, they will get melanoma and just get it cut out like you did" A whole new can of beans was opened. Let me tell you about melanoma, I was lucky, melanoma isn't just cut out, there is no cure for melanoma. Once it is in your system, it can return any time, any where and it can be deadly. Why do you think I go every three months to get my skin checked? The room went silent. I was stunned, I couldn't believe it.
My husband was out of the room when this happened. So later on he asked what was wrong with me. I told him what happened. His response.. Silence. A few minutes later, I turned over and nudged him. I told him that I needed him to support me. (Just a note, when I found out the latest spot was possibly a lentigo maligna and what that meant, I got a twinge of understanding from him)
I have two thoughts after last night. 1. I'm still too emotional about this to speak and educate others. 2. If I cant get my family to understand, can I really get others to?
No, I'm not going to stop trying to get the word out. As a matter of fact, I am going to start posting facts on my personal Facebook page again. I am going to continue with my plan of living life this summer, and showing that the outdoors can be enjoyed safely.