Oh my gosh, and ACTUAL blog post! It’s new, ya’ll!
I was eating a ham and cheese jaffle (it’s like a panini I guess) and reading an article about Queensland being the skin cancer capital of the world due to the state being close to the Equator and most Australians having fair skin. To say I’m fair is an understatement. I’m pale. I’m so pale my skin should shine like diamonds in the sunlight (what movie guys?). Here’s a picture of me in the car so you can see what my skin color actually looks like:
It looks like I have no jawline…WTF?
I hate the sun. I hate heat, it makes me sick (literally). From what my hubs has told me, the sun is actually stronger down here (I don’t remember why-ozone layer, perhaps?). On the other hand, my sister and my mom are total California girls. Growing up we spent many, many days at the beach-them laying on a towel in the sand, me walking around the boardwalk or in the water. When winter came, going to a tanning salon was a regular occurrence, and memberships were made. At my moms there is a pool, and everyone swims as we BBQ –while I’m inside in the air conditioned house more than likely on the computer. In 2004 I ended up landing a counter manager position for the Japanese luxury skin care line Shiseido, and believe me I sold an assload of products by saying, “look at MY skin! Of course it works!” I tried to pass this knowledge onto my mom and sister, but they were having no part of it. They equated tan, dark skin with healthy, beautiful skin. Idiots! (Mom and S, mean that in the nicest way! Love ya!)
Every June for my mom’s birthday her and my stepdad head down to Oceanside for their timeshare and spend the weekend down there. I love Oceanside so much! I usually try to scam driving down there one of the days just to sleep practically on the beach (inside with air conditioning, of course). A few weeks before her birthday in 2009, I got a call from my mom. She was driving home from work, I think. We chatted like we always do. About 5-10 minutes into the conversation, she says all casual, “so I have cancer”. Okay…the way she said it was so blasé it could have well been “they put pickles on my burger when I asked for no pickles”. I know why she said it that way-if it was dramatic I would have freaked the hell out. Or maybe she was in shock. I don’t know, it was just thrown out there like it wasn’t anything serious. “What?? What kind?”
Oh shit. My mom is going to die. She’s gonna die. For those of you unfamiliar with melanoma, it is one of the less common types of skin cancer, but causes the majority (75%) of skin cancer related deaths (thank you Wiki). I start grilling her like it’s the Spanish Inquisition. What type of melanoma? What stage? How big is it? When are you getting treatment? What’s the treatment? She doesn’t know anything. What had happened is about nine months prior, she had noticed a splotchy mole on her calf and pointed it out to the doctor. Doc said we will watch it to see if there are any changes. A week or so before this phone conversation my mom sees the doctor again, and the doctor recommends a biopsy. The night before this phone conversation my mom gets a call from the doctor saying it tested positive for melanoma. Now, I am not one, at ALL, to start making waves and demanding, but I made my mom get right back on the phone to the doctor and ask all of these questions. It turns out her type was superficial spreading melanoma, and it was just barely a Stage I. Okay.
I made damn sure my work gave me the weekend off so I could spend it at the beach with my mom. Who has cancer. My mom has cancer. My grandma is gone, if my mom dies I’m fucked (pardon the potty mouth). Yes, I was thinking about myself. And my family. As much as I want to strangle my mom 40% of the time (I’m the baby/black sheep/pain in the ass child), I know she is the Sun in our solar system of family. We all revolve around her. She is our rock. She lives for her family. She was taking this whole thing so easy, and I was a wreck. I would burst into tears at work (and I was the manager), and she handled everything so well. I have my dad’s bitch weak strength, whereas my mom isn’t afraid of anything. She would probably shank you in a bar fight (if she was a bar hoe).
Hubs and I drove to Oceanside and met up with my mom and stepdad. This was the first time I had seen her since she told me she had cancer. My mom has cancer. Cancer! She was having a grand old time (I think she was a little tipsy), and I was sobbing like a baby, asking her what we are supposed to do if she dies (yeah, I’m REALLY a downer). She was cool about it. It didn’t bother her (at least on the outside). I took some pictures in between tears, because even though staring out at the ocean made me all emo and distraught, it was just too beautiful not to look at. Then we had a seafood dinner and all was right with the world (I think it was the sautéed mushrooms that put a smile on my face finally).
Shortly after the trip, my mom had the melanoma excised. Every 3-6 months she goes back for a full body check. A few weeks ago they found six spots that need to be biopsied. My mom wasn’t going to even tell me because I’m over on the other side of the world and she didn’t want me to worry. Which I totally am, by the way. By the time I come home we will know the results (I think at least). I don’t blame my mom or people that still think tan=beautiful. That still holds true today to many people, sadly. When I see people walking around without some sort of protection on I want to shake the shit out of them, especially young girls.
I know my mom and sister hate being pale. I think S may go the spray tan route, but I’m really happy she realizes how dangerous the sun can be.At my nephew’s football fundraiser they were raffling off things, and one was a membership to a tanning salon. My sister looked at my mom and said, “if you win that, you ARE giving it away, you hear me?”
Christmas 1986. S is 11, mom is 30 (my age! Weird!), and I’m 6.