You would think I’d have learned my lesson back in the 70’s when my brother and I would climb up on the roof to sunbathe. SPF? What’s that?! We added baby oil to our Swedish Irish skin, and begged the Sun to send her rays down to make us look bronzed like our Greek and Italian friends did.
Alas, to no avail, of course.
What did avail, however, was many freckles,moles, and wrinkled skin, decades later.
Fast forward from the roof and baby oil to my late 30s and my first child, a 10-week-old baby girl... On our way out of town for Memorial Day weekend, I noticed several lumps along my collarbone. They felt kind of like Milk Duds forming an army.
Long story short: those Milk Duds were Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After six months of chemotherapy, I learned that three of the lymph nodes had not yet freed themselves of the cancer. Next step: 22 treatments of radiation therapy. (Mind you, my breast cancer survivor friends had many more doses of radiation than I was required to have. Many experienced blistered and often bleeding skin from radiation.)
The result of radiation is burnt skin. That bronze seeking girl who slathered baby oil on her skin became a vampire. The strongest SPF lotion would not suffice. No matter the heat, no matter the humidity, no matter the dress code, this girl layered up thick and prevented ANY UV rays from reaching her skin.
Thank God for Sun50 and clothing that allows a vampire to wear something other than a thick cape covering every inch of exposed skin. I’m grateful to report that all this happened 22 years ago. And that newborn daughter of mine has now finished school and launched herself into a fabulous career in design.
It is crucial to remember that a suntan doesn’t look so great if it forces you to succumb to skin cancer or early skin aging. Be smart and be kind to yourself.