Tanning. Let's talk about it.
If you know me personally, you know I'm almost always sporting a tan from the months of Feb-Sept. I've always loved a healthy glow. I've always believed "fat looks better tan."
In my own defense, as I would often try to argue when confronted with my tanning addiction, I don't always use a tanning bed. After I achieve my little glow from the tanning bed, I would just use natural good ol sunshine...without a good spf. I thought this was okay, right?! I already have a tan, why do I need to protect from sunburn? How stupid could I be?
I started tanning in a tanning bed when I was just 16 years old. I got a job at a tanning bed my first year of college that I was able to tan at for free. I spent every free moment at the pool or beach in the summer tanning. Not ever using sunscreen.
My husband has always tried to get me to stop tanning. I would whine and whine "but I love how I feel after being in a tanning bed, it's such a stress reliever", "I just feel better when I'm tan!" And although this may be true, those feelings didn't help me when I was sitting on the exam table a year ago when my doctor told me she was referring me to a dermatologist to get a mole looked at that has increased in diameter and changed colors within two months.
Alone. I sat there alone. With my own feelings of guilt. It's not like she diagnosed me with cancer or told me I was dying. But right then and there I knew what this could be. I knew. I knew all along what tanning beds could do. Is this really happening to me.
Two weeks later, I was sitting on the exam table in the dermatologist's office naked as she raided my body up and down looking for more moles or abnormal marks. She knew, I couldn't hide it.
"How long have you been using a tanning bed?" I just sat there, emotionless. It took me awhile to answer that it's been a total of 5 years. She took the time to teach me the dangers of tanning beds and the damage sun can do to my skin although I already knew. She told me all these moles and freckles on my body can change in the years to come. I just wanted to disappear.
20 mins later, I walked out of her office with with 2 moles cut off and nasty stitches on my face. Did it hurt? No. Was it over? No.
I went back two weeks later to have the stitches removed and get the results. Benign. Thank you, dear Lord. Thank you. It was around this time my dear friend Mary told me about one of her college friends Chelsea, who was just like me. But her story isn't the same. She didn't get to hear benign after she went to the doctor about a bump on her back that she found years after giving up tanning. I strongly urge you to read her story about her adventure with melanoma. It's still an adventure. It's not just skin cancer. Your life could change in one doctor's appointment.
I'm not perfect. I still have my bouts with the UV rays. But over the last year, I've taken my skin care more seriously than I ever have, and my view on indoor tanning has changed so much. Like my Daddy always told me, every decision has a consequence whether it's good or bad. Make that decision count.