I want to talk about friends who still tan. How can we get through to them? A couple of weeks ago, I came home and checked my facebook. As I scrolled down my feed, three of my "friends" had checked in at various tanning salons on their way home from work.
One of them is a life-tanner. If I share something about melanoma or skin cancer, she changes her profile picture to one of her in the tanning bed. She is very proud of her darker than her brown hair complexion.
Another is someone I met when she was in high school, and I was a little younger. Even then, when tanning with the brown and gold bottle that had to have a number 2 on it was popular, I thought she was very pretty as a fair skinned blonde. Now she is always very tan, and even before melanoma, I saw her golden brown skin as a little overcooked.
The final irritated me the most. This is someone who has liked my posts, sent prayers my way as I had my surgery or have awaited results of the maybe 20 biopsies in the past (almost) 3 years. She has brown hair, fair skin, light eyes. She is our target audience. She is who is at risk. She is aware of my struggle, yet she doesn't care.
A few days before this, a friend had posted a status tagging me, saying that she had been told that she didn't look like just gotten off a cruise because she wasn't tan. In the comment stream that followed, she referred to a statement I had made about being miserably sunburned at the end of my high school cruise and not enjoying it, but even more that after hearing about my melanoma experience, she was more aware. So I texted her and told her that seeing these tanning bed posts were like a punch in the gut. We agreed that I would post a stat later, that wouldn't call anyone out, but just bring more awareness.
As I thought about this through the night, I couldn't decide what to do. Then I logged on to Pinterest. The final girl puts everyone to shame with her pinning habit. There it was! That was my new battleground. The last time I searched Melanoma on pinterest, there wasn't much there. It is there now. Since then I have been randomly repinning to my melanoma awareness board. Between that and my facebook posts, which I admit need to be more, I know it will be seen.
I have another sun loving friend who has told me several times that she is more aware of the risks thanks to me, and she appreciates my posts. She still gets very tan, being outdoors a lot, but I believe awareness is the seed that will grow into action. I have been pleasantly surprised that she has repinned every melanoma awareness pin that I have shared. She has a preteen, hopefully the seed will grow in time to prevent bad habits for the little one.