Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Are We Spending Our Time?

Last week was absolutely INSANE. Work kept me busy night and day. My family was lucky I found time to cook for them. I can count on one finger (that’s right I wrote finger) how many times I showered last week.  Do not try this in the workplace, people. I work from home.  I was only able to post once. Although I did find time to put together the Hey Girl memes.  That was fun and easy, and did I mention fun? But I missed writing.  I missed my readers. Weird isn’t it? I mean, I don’t even know who is reading this or when, but when I write “you” are in my mind. So many of “you” All different types of “you” But according to my Facebook stats, most of my readers are women in my age group (go figure, :) )

So when I write, I am especially writing to those “yous.” You’re the people in power, after all. You have the most influence on how children and teens are being taken care of and how often your men get to a dermatologist and wear sunscreen. (This is the one time it is TOTALLY ok to nag, ladies. Get them to wear that sunscreen!)

So I know that set of “yous” will definitely appreciate where I am coming from with today’s post.

The more blessings that come into my life, the more responsibility, and the less patience I have. I feel, most days, with all the hats I wear, I am just barely reaching an acceptable level of performance at each. Most days, I feel like I am failing at everything. This would be my report card right now:

Mom   C-
Wife  C-
Career  C
Housekeeper  F
Cook  D
Friend  D
Self Care   F---

Sunday, morning I woke up thinking, wow only 2 days and then Christmas is over.  What have I done?  Or more like, what haven’t I done?  I managed to do 95% of my shopping two weekends ago on Amazon.  I did it virtually of course, as I do pretty much everything else. I must admit, I did it as close to the last minute as possible on purpose. Last year, I went completely overboard. I bought them WAY too many things, which I always said I wouldn’t do. After all, the reason I love and have always loved Christmas is because of the magic.

 At Christmas time, suddenly, most people are happy. They are smiling. Strangers are more pleasant. We all become more giving. It’s like sometime between the nearly vicious greediness of Black Friday and the joyous morning of Christmas day, we are all injected with some super, warm, LOVE.  So much love, that we can’t help but give it out. I remember Christmas time being the happiest time for my family, always. So naturally, I want my children to feel that happiness. I don’t want it to be all about the gifts.

So this year, I cut down and back, and for that I get an A +. But what else have I done? Did I take the kids to see the “snow” falling at the town center?  Did I take them to see the life-size gingerbread house?  Have we made our play snow?  Have we baked our snowman cookies? As I sat here, reflecting on all the things I didn’t do this month due to working, I thought about all the time I have been with my children, but not really with them.  This time of year, especially, we are running around like crazy, trying to make magic and dreams for our children. Are we focusing too much on the things? Are we trying to cram so much into our lives for the experience, or are we focusing on the quality time we share? The things we will all remember the most.

This was something I promised myself when I received the clear lab reports after my surgery in July.  I promised myself that I would reevaluate my priorities. I know God and family always come first when I write them down, but is that what’s happening when I wake up in the morning?  Forget my list. What do my actions show my priorities to be?

Here I am, five months later, and I again have fallen back into my routine of accomplishing the absolutely necessary for today, and postponing everything else, usually the most important things, until tomorrow.  My tomorrow list is unbearable, but lucky for me, tomorrow never really comes, because once it's here, tomorrow becomes today.  And today, there just isn’t time for much of anything.

So I decided to take some time off, not just from work, but from stress and from worry and from all the things I spend entirely too much time on, like social networking sites. I didn’t stay off completely, but it was nice to take a peek and see I had 32 notifications, rather than waiting for what seems like hours to have something new post.

On Christmas day, I didn’t post a thousand pictures of my kids. I didn’t provide everyone with hourly updates of what was going on or what I was eating. I was not "intexticated" as my mom likes to call me.   Instead, I used my phone to take some pictures of my kids smiling and playing. The rest of the time was spent enjoying everyone around me. It was definitely a great day. 

I encourage all of you to do what I plan on doing in this next week and into the new year, take a good, long look at what you spend your time doing. Do your actions reflect your priorities? If someone had to name your priorities based on what they see you doing, what would come first? Would it match the priorities you have in your heart?

Regardless of whether we are diagnosed with an awful disease like cancer or just received a clean bill of health this morning, no one knows how much time they have left on this earth. Are we living our days the way we want? I think it is VERY important to stop thinking we will have more time. As we get older, our time is getting shorter, not longer. 

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday. I will be back next week, and then back to regular posting the week after.

As always, thank you for reading and until next time, practice safe sun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hey Girl..Wanna Cuddle Up and Read Light Skinned Mother's Blog with Me?

Surprisingly, there are still some people out there who don’t know about the “Hey Girl” memes.

meme:  an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. 
Thank you Wikipedia.

If you don’t know, the “Hey girl” memes were created in 2008by Douglas Reinhardt on his Tumblr F#$@ Yeah! Ryan Gosling.

When asked, Why Ryan Gosling and why “Hey Girl”? in an interview on Knowyourmeme, Reinhardt answered:

Ryan Gosling is actually one of my favorite actors and seemed to be an actor that girls were generally attracted to. When the site first started, Xzibit Yo Dawg image macros were very popular on Tumblr. “Hey Girl,” seemed like a romantic, flirty version of “Yo Dawg.” The phrase itself was probably inspired by 90s R&B songs, cold medicine, and my inability to flirt.

The fact that Reinhardt was inspired by 90s R&B songs when coming up with the phrase, Hey girl, could quite possibly, make me  a little sweet on him, too.

I liked the “hey Girl” memes as soon as I saw them. If you are human, attracted to men, and have blood running through your veins, how could you NOT?  These are my recent favorites: 

I adore Ryan Gosling, buying fabric, and babies.  In these 3 photos he is the total package- my DREAM man.  Mr. LSM is still the best, though using these phrases with me wouldn’t hurt any.

 So why not have our “dream boyfriend” tell us that he wants us to take care of our skin and health?  I mean what woman wouldn't pass around these picture for the eye candy alone? If it gets the message out there, even better. 

Here is the first one I made:

I've been having fun creating these and trying to come up with tips while adding a little "naughtiness" to them.  I have to make them memorable, right? I've been posting them on my Light Skinned Mother Facebook page and on Twitter each day this week. Maybe I will take them into next week, who knows? There are LOTS of things to share about protecting yourself from skin cancer and there are LOTS of Ryan Gosling pics to be found.

I do hope they get around. So I encourage you to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter and SHARE SHARE SHARE!

As you can see, I am not above using gimmicks or sexy men and women to spread the word and awareness about melanoma. I wish I had this hunk of a man telling me to put on sunscreen when I was a teen. 

Who knows? Maybe one day we will hear Ryan reading some of my memes like he did here.

A girl can dream, right? After all..isn't that what the Hey Girl memes are all about?

As always, thank you for reading! Until next time, practice safe sun!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Do You Have the Power?

As I child of the 80’s and early 90’s, I cannot hear the word POWER and not think of the Snap song-

Loved it!  It gets stuck in your head so easily.  A few years ago, he was the coach for my nephew’s football team. Every time I went to a game and saw Coach “Turbo”, I’d start singing, “It’s getting, it’s getting, it’s getting kind of hectic.”

That is the FIRST thing I think about when I hear the word "power." (I am a sucker for music)

The second thing I think about is this:

During my first year of teaching, I taught 6th grade math and science. The local radio station would give Black History facts in the morning and follow with the reminder that Knowledge Is Power. Being a very excited brand new teacher, I totally believed that and made a sign with the saying and posted in my classroom.

I still believe it today, but when I think about it, I don’t think about all the education in the school books as much as I think about the knowledge we need to survive. The knowledge we need to protect ourselves from cancer and other diseases.

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on the island of Key West, FL. The sun  could be found everywhere. All. The. Time.  So, naturally, I was taught ALL about skin cancer and how to avoid it, right? WRONG.  Want to know my knowledge about skin cancer?
Here it is:

  • Skin cancer comes from too much sun when you are at the beach.
  • If I wear sunscreen, I will be ok.
  • Dark, big moles are scary and can be dangerous.

There you go. That was my entire knowledge of skin cancer - Skin cancer = ugly moles.   I had a large, dark brown mole on my back since I was a teen. When I got into my 20’s, I started going to have yearly skin exams because of THAT mole. I thought it was the one that would be my doom- if that were my fate.  But, every dermatologist said it looked fine. I had that mole on my back until 3 months ago, when I made my new dermatologist remove it. It was benign.

The pink bubble pimple-looking mole that I had on my neck? That couldn’t be cancer. It was too cute. Too pretty.  It itched, and  I had it removed. Then it came back. Had I known that EVOVLING or ITCHING were two HUGE signs, I would have taken it more serious. I wouldn’t have procrastinated. I wouldn’t have rescheduled the appointment 3 different times! That’s right 3 times! All with at least a month and a half in between. They would have caught my melanoma long before it got to go deeper into my skin.  I would have known it really WAS something serious, but I lacked the knowledge.

You see when I went to the dermatologist it usually had to do with acne. I saw a dermatologist for acne from the age of 12 to 22.  There were no signs showing me what to look for when detecting skin cancer, but there were plenty of signs telling me how great I would look with Botox injections,  Acutane,  hair restoration procedures, facials, and peels.  How was I to know?

As I searched the web for this picture to show you a quick summary of the ABC’s of skin cancer, I could not get over how many stop at D.  The don’t even INCLUDE evolving.  No wonder I was clueless.

This is what everyone SHOULD at least be exposed to at any doctor's office, but especially the dermatologist.

And then there are the OTHER signs:

Other Danger Signs of Malignant Melanoma
• Change in color, especially multiple shades of dark brown or black; red, white and blue, 
• Change or spreading of color from the edge of the mole into surrounding skin.• Change in size, especially sudden or continuous enlargement.• Change in shape, especially development of irregular margins or border.• Change in elevation, especially sudden elevation of a previously flat mole.• Change in the surface texture of a mole, especially scaliness, erosion, oozing, crusting, ulceration, or bleeding.• Change in the the surrounding skin, especially redness, swelling, or new moles.• Change in sensation, especially itching, tenderness, or pain.
Basically, any mole or growth that is CHANGING needs to be checked by a doctor.

This site wasn't afraid to tell it like it is. They felt it was important to give ALL the information. Kudos to

I am so glad to be here for those who are newly diagnosed with melanoma, but I also hope to be reaching everyone who hasn’t been diagnosed.  

You see, 

  • Melanoma is now the fastest growing cancer in the US.

  • The chance of getting melanoma  was 1 in 1500 in 1940, then 1 in 67 in 2004, and now it's 1 in 50

I rather YOU find it BEFORE anyone else does. I rather YOU find it before it’s too deep or too late. If caught in the earliest stages, melanoma is entirely treatable with a survival rate of nearly 100%. If untreated and allowed to spread, there is NO known treatment or cure! You can find those facts on MANY skin cancer sites. Here is the site I used. 

Early detection is key, and to have early detection you must KNOW what to look for. Not  all melanomas are dark and flat and scary looking. 

Share this with your family and friends. Spread the knowledge everyone. Please give others the power to see what I did not.  

As always, thank you for reading and until next practice safe sun!

OH..and make sure to use your power for good...not evil. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Do You Fear?

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

That’s a big fat lie.

I mean, no disrespect to FDR or anyone else who has quoted him, but the fear I feel when a roach is 10 feet away from me is NOTHING compared to the trauma I experience when one touches my skin, or OMG, my hair!  Then there’s the heebie-jeebie aftershocks I suffer for hours afterwards. I just shake and squirm and squeal at the slightest touch of air on my skin. It’s just awful. So I will take my Katsaridaphobia(fear of roaches) any day over one actually touching me.

I think it’s fair to say that everyone knows fear of some kind. I used to think that people were taught to fear things, so I would make sure not to teach my kids to be fearful of anything. Well, I was wrong. Both my kids were born with the same horrifying fear their father has of any inanimate object with a face, especially one with eyes that move. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into my own bedroom to find an antique doll, given to me by my mom, turned to face the wall, because “It’s creepy.”  I spent $50 on a talking Elmo doll that has gone missing MANY TIMES at the hands of the man I married. My two little ones were born with that gene. They didn’t have to see it or hear it from their dad, they turned away from dolls the first time I showed them one.

I've had many fears in my life. Often ones that never came to be, and then there were the ones that I never thought I'd have. Ahem..melanoma.  Over the years, I’ve shed a few of my fears, like my Aviophobia (fear of flying), but I’ve held on to many. There’s my  Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), Pupaphobia (fear of puppets), Thanatophobia (fear of dying), Emetophobia (fear of vomiting),  and Oompaloompaphobia ( fear of tiny orange men with green hair singing freakish songs about naughty kids). Ok, the last one isn’t officially in any reference book or medical paper, but I have studies going, people. Trust me, it's REAL.

I’ve also picked up a few fears as I’ve gotten older-  Soteriophobia (dependence on others), Cancerophobia (self explanatory), Heliophobia (fear of the sun),  Flatoblongishbuttaphobia (the fear of mom jeans) Yes, I have more studies in the works to make this one official, and Gerascophobia ( fear of growing old).

This last one reminds me of what Hillary Fogelson at PaleGirlSPEAKS said in a Twitter conversation.

She is SO right!

I used to think as a child, that I would grow old gracefully. I loved my great aunt’s silver gray hair. I swore I would dye mine all silver/grey at the site of my first one. That one came earlier than I expected. At the first site of creases on the side of my eyes in my 20's, i started slathering the SPF 90 on my face daily. It was then I realized that growing old gracefully is SO not me.  There are times when I think it is a blessing that I don't make a lot of money, because if I did, I’d take permanent residence in some cosmetic surgeon's office fighting and kicking age all the way to the end.

It took me a LONG time to like myself and the way I look. It took even longer to feel pretty, so I am in NO hurry for my looks to change due to age, but as my brother always says,
"No one WANTS to get older, but the alternative is worse."

And there we go again.. we should be thrilled to grow old. We should embrace aging, while fighting it with some good, strong SPF. You didn't think I would succumb completely did you? 

I wish I had thought about aging as I sat out in the sun trying to get darker. I wish someone had shown me a picture of the sun damage that was UNDER my skin already. I saw one, in my mid 20's, and that's when I started wearing sunscreen daily, not just at the beach. If you're not afraid of skin cancer (which you should be), then at least think about your looks. If I can get you to protect yourself based on vanity, I will shamelessly do it.  I don't want you to end up adding "dying of cancer" to your list of fears.

I'm still working on my fears. I figure I won't be able to shake most of the ones I've had long term,  HoweverI can safely assure you that I will never learn to embrace an Oompa Loompa.  Besides, those old ones aren't really a threat anymore. It's the new ones that I deal with mostly- the fear of the "C" word coming back, the fear of the sun eating me alive, and the fear of looking like a grandma, when I still want to "shake what my mamma gave" me.

 I invite you all to work on your fears with me. Share them and how you deal with them, if you'd like.  I'll keep you posted on how I am doing, and if you see me in some "mom jeans" I expect you to call me out, ok?

As always, thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Anyone Can Get Skin Cancer- YES ANYONE!!

As I mentioned in my About Me section on Facebook, my husband is African American. It was relevant for me to point out. (If you haven't read how the name Light Skinned Mother came about, you can read it here) and it's relevant for this post. 

I grew up with close friends of many different races and ethnicities- African American, Caucasian, Japanese, Cuban, Middle Eastern, Filipino, I could go on and on. I taught at a mostly-black school for 4 years and I was sponsor of the Ebony Club at the last high school I taught at for 7 years.

Why am I telling you this? 

I am pointing all of this out because I am friends with the majority of  those people in life and on Facebook., and yet, although I am constantly promoting my blog, I think only a FEW of them have read it. At first, I was about to take it personally, and then it occurred to me:

They don't think THEY can get skin cancer!!


I must admit, even with my half-Latina background, my dark hair and dark eyes, I did not think I was a likely candidate for skin cancer. I also had several people make that comment when I was diagnosed, including some doctors. Since being diagnosed with melanoma, I've had a few conversations that helped lead me to this conclusion.  

This conversation was between my husband and me, early into my SPF tirade:

Me: You should be using sunscreen, you know?
Mr. LSM:
Me: Just because you're black, that doesn't mean you can't get it.
Mr. LSM:
Me: (working hard for a reaction) You know, Bob Marley died from it.Mr. LSM: Look at where he lived. All they do is sit out in the sun.
 This is when I walk away before I start running my mouth in anger.

I received a message from a friend right after my first blog post:
Friend: So can anyone other than Caucasians get melanoma?
Me: Yes. Bob Marley died from it.
Friend: Bob Marley was half white.
Me: Just read this (and I sent him a link to some info online)
This is when I decide that maybe I need to find more examples than Bob Marley.

This was a conversation we had with the man who tinted my car windows a few weeks ago. My husband spoke to him the day before, telling him that I had had melanoma so it was important I got the windows as dark as possible.

Tint guy: I was telling my wife about you last night.  (then looks over at my husband) Did you know WE can get it, too? 
Mr. LSM: Yes. yeah, wonder who told him that
Tint guy: That's crazy! I never knew that. 
And this is when I decide that just maybe not everyone knows that ANYONE can get skin cancer. 

So, I am taking it on as my responsibility to educate the naturally not-so-tan AND  those who are naturally tan. 

Here are the most recent facts from

Notice the last 3 facts.  Why is this so?

While skin cancer is less common among people with darker skin, it is often detected at later or advanced stages. In fact, data show that when African Americans and other minority Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer, it is usually at a later stage, when the disease is harder to treat. This later diagnosis occurs partly because many people—even doctors—have long assumed that the pigment melanin in darker skin can protect against skin cancer. However, although melanin does help prevent sunburns, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can still damage skin.
This is from a great article on how to Protect the Skin theSkin You’re In by the National Cancer Institute.  Everyone should read it.

So yes, it IS rare but it DOES happen. Do you really want to be that person? The person who knew someone with melanoma, who had every opportunity to learn about what to look for, but chose not to because you thought "It won't happen to me." 

I didn't think so! 

Educate yourself. Know what to look for! Don't let it creep up on you. 

There may not be a cure,but until there is one, I plan on stopping this beast in its tracks!

Also check out this video on Minorities and Skin Cancer Awareness.

Why Light Skinned Mother?

Where the name “Light Skinned Mother” came from:

My husband, who is African- American, has a vanity plate on the front of his SUV that reads, Light Skinned Brother. Since having two children, I have been the one doing most of the driving in that car, since it was the only one big enough to tote two toddlers around. I was always drawing strange looks from people walking by, reading the plate, then looking up at me. One day, after packing up my two kids and their stroller into the car, I started to pull off and my sisters commented, “Your tag should say Light Skinned MOTHER, not brother.” And so it began as a joke between my family and friends and I. 

Light skinned mother took on a new meaning the week of June 11, 2012. I had just purchased a much needed car, since mine was 16 years old. I contemplated getting a vanity plate for myself, but wasn’t sure I really wanted it. Four days later, on Friday, June 15, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It was a complete shock. The following Monday, my husband drove us to the mall and had the vanity plate made for my car. A few weeks later, I put the Melanoma Awareness frame around it. I truly have to be a “light skinned mother” now. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Many Emotions of Just One Day in Melanoma Land

I am an emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I get excited, I talk loud and I use my hands. When my husband asks why I’m yelling at him, I tell him, “I am not yelling. I am passionate about this topic, so I get louder.  Remember I am half Latina.” 

Mr. LSM:  What does that mean?
Me:  It means what it means.

Then I walk away..and lower my voice.

I am emotional.   What can I say?

 (I can proudly admit this because my husband rarely reads my blog. He will never see this, therefore technically, I have never admitted it.)

So you can imagine, since being diagnosed will melanoma, I've become even more emotional, especially when visiting with my doctors. 

After my last appointment with my surgeon, prior to my ultrasound to recheck my enlarge lymph node, I was told “If they stick a needle in you, you come back. No needle, we see you in 3 months.”  So when I didn’t get a needle stuck in my neck, I figured I didn’t need to go back. But last Friday, I called to be safe, because you can never be TOO safe when it comes to your health.  They said the doctor did want to see me. That made me a bit nervous, until I got a letter on Saturday, from my doctor, saying that he would be leaving at the end of the month to pursue other challenges and opportunities.  I figured that was probably why he wanted me to come in. My relief quickly disappeared though as I realized- he is leaving at the end of the month.

Then on Monday, I was just too busy to think about anything, until I got to the office.
Until I was a patient, I had never been to a cancer center before. As most would imagine, most of the people are older, so I always feel a little awkward and out of place.  As I look around, I see my grandparents in these people’s faces, even my parents, and then I think, Oh my God, I am here, too. I am a patient like them.

Today, there was only one person in the waiting room with me. She was called back as soon as I sat down, and I was called shortly after. I started to get a little nervous at that point. What if there WAS something wrong and I just misunderstood the lady doing my ultrasound? The nurse taking me to the room was very upbeat and talkative. They always ask your name and birth date. She said I would be hitting 40 in a few more years and was I ready for that. “No!” I answered while laughing, “Are you kidding me? I still feel 28?” Then my laughter stopped.  God ,I hope I see 40.

I sat down with a People magazine to distract my mind, and it worked, because I came across this picture.

Ladies, you're feeling calm right now just looking at it, aren’t you? 

Then I turned the page to see this ad…

Which made me upset. That is the EXACT lotion I used whenever I laid out to tan. SPF 8 so I wouldn’t burn, but would still get dark. I even used accelerator whenever I could. I hated the fact that on this ad, in 2012, they are claiming the protection you deserve. Really? SPF 8 is protection?

I was angry. I wanted to go back and smack my teenage self, shoot, I needed to smack my early 20’s self as well.  If only I knew.  If only I had known what to look for, so I could have caught this nasty beast in an even earlier stage.

My surgeon entered. He came in and said, “The lymph node has shrunk.”  Ah, relief. Then he sat down to tell me that at this point, he isn’t going to give me a neck dissection if my CT, PET Scan, and ultrasound are all negative. Good news right? But a part of me wanted to say “Do it! Take them all out. Please!”  I started to doubt my good fortune.

I didn’t say that however. What I did say was, “I received your letter, and I am very sad that you are leaving.”  He explained that he felt bad leaving his patients, but he was offered a great and challenging opportunity. How could I be angry at that? The man has a gift. If he felt God wanted him to go elsewhere, then he needed to do that.  But what am I going to do without him? He told me that now the practice was just down to one head and neck surgeon, so she is going to be busy. That worried me. He always saw me so quickly. He was on top of everything.  Then, maybe because I knew it was the last time I would be seeing him, I said, “I am scared. I read these stories about people who have melanoma on their head, and years later it is in their stomach.  How am I supposed to know?  How can I know? You looked out for me.”

And he looked me in the eye and told me, “You live your life. You continue being a great mom. You continue being a great wife. You live. You continue to check yourself and stay on top of this, but you live.”  Then he went on to say that he really cares about his patients, which I know first-hand. He said, as he has said many times before, “When I look at you, I see my wife. You are my age. You have young children like us. I am sorry that I internalize it like that.” And I said, “NO! I am so glad you do. I want everyone to see me as someone they love, because there are people who love me.”

 He then told me I need to make sure I get a CT every 3 months for the first year.  He handed me a copy of my ultrasound report and he shook my hand. I started to tear up. Then he asked if I still had his cell phone number in case I was ever worried about something.  Wherever he is going, those people sure are blessed.

He left the room. Then I walked out to schedule my next appointment, with the other, soon to be very busy, head and neck surgeon. I also scheduled my CT appointment. The nurse who walked me out asked me if I was ok. Clearly, my eyes were all welled up.  “Yes,” I said. No. Make him stay. This other doctor isn’t going to care about me. She isn’t going to worry about me like he did. She will be too busy to read my scans or catch anything in time.  I sat down, wiped back my tears, and made Starbucks small talk while scheduling my next scan.

I was sad in the elevator. I was sad on the way home. I was sad when I got home (until I spent about an hour explaining to my husband that NO, if someone would have told him that they see their husband in him, I would NOT be bothered. Well, not if it was a doctor. The lady checking him out at McDonald’s couldn’t do that and get away with it.) Then I had to remind myself- your lymph node shrunk. Negative. Negative. Negative. This is GOOD stuff. 

Happy times.

It was definitely a bittersweet visit. You don’t realize that you don’t only trust God with your life, but sometimes there are people right here you also trust. I knew from the first time I met with my surgeon, that he was going to look out for me and do his best. Just like when I go to bed at night, I can sleep without worry, because I know my husband will take care of me and the kids if anything happens. Just like I know my mom and my sisters will do anything to have my back and help me. Just like I know my friends will always be there with a kind word, a joke, a meal, or some company.

And to think, I almost didn’t meet my surgeon.  Well, no, God  would have made sure that I did.

I ended that day even more thankful- for everything and everyone. I decided I must do what the doctor said, LIVE MY LIFE, no matter how emotional I get about it. I must keep living and doing what I am doing so I can help others to live their life as well.  So, for me to be invited to participate in The Thankful Hearts: The Random Acts of Kindness Project just minutes after I finished typing this was absolutely NO coincidence.  This couple has so much to be thankful for, much like us all. They want to encourage us to make one random act of kindness on Wednesday, December 5 and share it. If you can’t think of anything, they have ideas on their site.

Readers, please go out and do something for someone today simply because it makes you feel good to do so.

Share your acts of kindness with them- AND me! I'd love to hear!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Quitting IS Sometimes A Good Idea!

I had lunch with a very good friend this weekend. She has a ton of great qualities, but punctuality isn't one of them. So, as I waited for her, I decided to sit on the outside patio. It was extremely overcast (not that I still didn’t need to slather on the SPF), there were umbrellas over the tables, and it was actually cool outside, so I wanted to take advantage. Since being diagnosed, there are few opportunities when I can sit outside anywhere and not feel like the sun is slowing eating away at me.

There weren’t many people out there, only about 4 tables, including me.  Sitting in front of me was a table full of nurses.  As I played with my phone, reading the latest check ins and updates from all my friends on Facebook and trying half-way not to overhear other peoples’ conversations,  one of the nurses yelled, “Ma’am,” to which I immediately raised my head ( I don’t know why, because I am certainly not old enough to be called ma’am.) “You know this is a no smoking patio.” 

I have never smoked a day in my life, yet it took a second to realize she wasn’t talking to me. I turned around and saw an older man and woman sitting a few tables behind me.  The woman said “It is? I didn’t know that.”  The nurse then went on to point out the signs “all over.”

The couple then got up to leave.  As they were walking past the table of nurses, who were also getting up to leave, the man, clearly agitated, said “I am sorry we bothered you so much.” To which the nurse, who had quite a bit of what I call “passion” inside her, went off.

“HEEEELLLL YEAH!  I don’t want to smell your smoke.  If you want to die of cancer go ahead, but I don’t need to smell your smoke.”

I’ve never been comfortable with other people’s conflict. If I am involved, my self-righteousness takes over and there is no time to feel sad until after I’ve already acted like a jerk, but watching other people go at each other, even verbally, makes me very uncomfortable. On the one hand, I was grateful she told them to stop smoking. They were closer to me and had I had a chance to smell it, I would have gotten up and went inside, ruining my nice time outside.  On the other hand, I don’t think the exchange had to be so nasty.

After everyone was gone, and it was just me, STILL waiting on my friend to arrive, I started to think about the couple and how they’re probably so set in their ways, they’ll never quit.  It made me think of my nana and my father-in-law.

My nana smoked from the age of 13 until one year before she passed away from emphysema. One day I called her on the phone and she was slurring her words. I called my mom, and she called 911. On her way out to the ambulance, my nana grabbed her cigarette pouch. The EMT told her she couldn’t take those with her.  The next day, we were told by her doctor that she had emphysema and had about a year left. She was put on oxygen. That was the ONLY thing that stopped her from smoking that last year. She didn’t want to blow herself up!

My father-in-law passed away at the age of 59 from lung cancer. He, too, smoked all his life. I only saw him twice. At the time, my husband was just my boyfriend. I met his father one day when we took something to his house. The second and last time I saw him, other than in a coffin at his funeral, was when we drove him to a chemo appointment.  He died 6 months after being diagnosed and was buried on what would have been his 60th birthday.

Just a few days before my interesting lunch, I was a witness to a very brave and courageous effort made by one of my fellow melanoma warriors, Chelsea Price at Adventures with My Enemy Melanoma.  She searched #tanning on twitter and found an amazing amount of young girls discussing how they were either going for their second tan of the day, getting ready for their 12 minute “nap” in the tanning machine, or complaining that their parents better get them some tanning sessions for Christmas.

Chelsea replied back to each and every one of them. She encouraged them to rethink their decision to tan. She shared that she was diagnosed with melanoma at 23. As expected, she received some “not-so-nice” responses back, but I tell you, I admire her guts and her ability to follow through with her mission.

Let’s hope that much like the teenagers I used to teach, when she was put on the spot, she felt the need to be nasty and ignorant. Even so, I bet Chelsea made her think. At least, I pray she did.

So why do these people, or should I say “WE”, because WE ALL do it, in one way or another, why do we do things that we know can only lead to harm and no good? I figure there are two reasons:
1)            Addiction

2)            We never think it’s going to happen to us.

We know when we drink and get into a car to drive, we could kill someone or ourselves, but we never think it will happen to us.

We know when we text and drive, that many people have died due to the distraction, but not us, we can drive and text. We have better “skills” than those other people.

We know smoking leads to death, yet, even if we want to stop, it’s just too hard. We are set in our ways. We are addicted and the fight is much too hard for us to handle on our own.

In 2012, we KNOW any kind of tanning, especially indoor, can kill us. But we put vanity over life. We use it as our therapy, our “time-out”.  Sure, it can happen to other people. But it won’t happen to me, not now at least.  Just a few more sessions. I won’t do it forever.
When will WE realize that YES it CAN happen to us?  When it does? 

I hope not. Learn from other people’s mistakes. We won’t live long enough to make them all ourselves.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun.