I am going to preface this post by saying to consider this my skin cancer PSA. The next time you sign a waiver for a tanning bed, skip sunscreen because it’s whatever, or think you’re above skin cancer, take a second look and re-evaluate if the repercussions are worth your life.
My sister, me, and my mom in Florida
As skin cancer awareness month comes to a close this week, I knew I needed to take a second and share my personal skin cancer PSA. Every May is dedicated as skin cancer awareness month by the American Academy of Dermatology. However, this year, May takes on a new meaning.
Back in February, I published a life update post on my blog; however, I left out a glaring detail of what was going on in my personal life. I didn’t lie in this post, I simply just wasn’t the right time to talk about it, you know? Instead, I decided to focus on the positives happening in my life at that time. But behind the scenes, my family just learned the news that my mom’s dermatologist found melanoma on her back.
I am hardly ever lost for words, but when my mom shared this news, I sat silently on the other end of the line. This was the scariest news I’ve ever received. I couldn’t talk about it or tell anyone without feeling like I was going to burst into tears. Even after I told Matt, I said that I didn’t want to talk about it because life is too short for tears. I would rather spend my time being an optimist rather than freak out and Google everything that could happen to my mom.
Since early 2019, this first spot of melanoma was successfully removed, as well as another cancerous spot on her right leg. Both left scars — thankfully scars that will be barely noticeable thanks to modern treatments — that will serve as a reminder that no one chooses to face cancer, but it’s a real b*tch.
For those who do not know, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Between 2009 and 2019, the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 54%. My mom has never been to a tanning bed in her life, but the first question each of her doctors asked when they discovered the melanoma was, “have you ever used a tanning bed?” This is because using an indoor tanning bed can increase your risk of melanoma by 59%, and your risk increases with each use.
I did not write this post to lecture those who use tanning beds. Rather, I’m writing it as a PSA so that the next time I see a young college student signing the tanning bed waiver that says “if I die from skin cancer, no one can sue the apartment complex,” she’ll think twice. Seriously, the worst thing you have to hear or tell a loved one is that you have cancer.
May is skin cancer awareness month. This post is not in any way, shape, or form sponsored. This is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart, and you’ll never understand the hellish nature of hearing a loved one has cancer until you’ve lived through it.