For those of you who know me, and I guess for those of you who have ever seen a picture of me, you will have undoubtedly noticed that I am about five shades lighter than a Cullen vampire on their best day. I am a pale-face. I don't sparkle in the sun but I have enough moles on my body that they could be called my own version of sparkles.
Why are you blogging about this MJ? What relevance does this have to parenting? Well I will tell you. I have gone to the dermatologist periodically throughout my life. I have even had a couple of moles removed - most notably one on my back in law school. Well I was about three years overdue, so in January I went to a brand new Duke dermatologist to have them all looked at. Unsurprisingly, there were a few moles he needed to biopsy. And by a few I mean FIVE. Of course, he didn't have enough time to take little chunks out of five different moles that day, so he had to schedule a second appointment for the next day. On that day, I bravely held my husband's hand while the doctor shot what felt like needles (anesthesia) into my skin and then cookie cuttered a 2mm portion of each mole out.
I figured with 5 moles being biopsied, my odds weren't great for everything coming back hunky dory. And I was right. Four came back as severely abnormal. One came back as a touch of melanoma. Yes - I have a touch of cancer. I say "a touch" because it is Melanoma In Situ, which is Stage 0. That means it hasn't spread past the dermis and is just sitting there. On my back. All "I'm cancer" and stuff.
Ugh. Great. Like I have time for this. So now for treatment. I have two different surgeries scheduled. One for my melanoma mole and one of the other superbad-but-not-quite-cancerous moles which is today. My new new dermatologist (that's right, after the biopsy I got referred to Duke's melanoma specialist) will be cutting clean margins to make sure she gets it all. Then in two weeks, I go back to have the other three superbad moles removed. Because they are all probably baby melanomas in the making.
What else? Well, I am personally going to insist on a PET scan, and probably one a year for a while. I know its not the usual treatment and my doc will likely not recommend it. But guess what - doctors are human. They are talented and know everything about their field. But there are those weird cases where docs say they had clean margins and two years later, the patient wakes up with Stage IV. I won't be one of those - No sir.
But what does this have to do with parenting? Well - WEAR SUNSCREEN! If you have not gotten the memo, being tan is not "in." Finally, thanks to skin cancer, being a pale-face sparkly vampire is "in." No one is tan anymore, and if you are, people think you are weird. And this applies to all ages. It doesn't matter how old you are, you aren't supposed to be tan. Now, you are supposed to wear sunscreen anytime you will be exposed to the sun.
Now, this is not my parents fault that I have melanoma. They typically slathered me up with SPF 15 in the summers. But in high school, did I take my pasty self to the tanning bed? Yes. College? Yes. But after college it stopped. Let's face it - I can't get that tan anyway. I mostly burn. Chris and I went on a cruise at the end of law school. We came back as pale as we were when we left. Why? Because I only packed SPF 50 sunscreen.
And in case some of you haven't noticed, Susan definitely inherited my coloring. We even found her first freckle, which almost made me cry. At the work cookout we hosted this past summer, my boss (known for his tact) said "Well, she is definitely the whitest baby I have ever seen." So true. And she will stay that way. We will make her the queen of sunscreen babies. Anytime she will be playing outside, she will be a covered, greasy toddler.
Beach? She will wear a hat. If she isn't splashing in the water or building sandcastles, she will be hanging out under the umbrella. (Seriously, who goes to the beach and doesn't sit in the shade? That is just like giving melanoma the finger. Well guess what - karma is a bitch and so is that weird ass looking mole on your belly/back/scalp/calf.) Playing in the yard? Same thing.
Chris agrees with all this too. Both of us are always incredulous when we see people spraying tanning oil at the beach or laying on their stomachs with a swimsuit strap unfastened. Are you kidding? Didn't you get the memo? Tan is OUT! Tan is a sign that you are stupid and don't care about preventing one of the most PREVENTABLE forms of cancer. I was stupid once - LOOK WHAT HAPPENED! (And if you are one of my friends and are tanning - STOP! You are being stupid! So Stupid! And by tanning, I mean not covering up, not wearing a hat, not sitting in the shade and not slathering with at least SPF 45 everytime you are out in the sun for a while.)
Now let's face it - with as pale and moley has I have always been, this could have happened anyway. I could have been the queen of SPF 70 in high school and with my moles everywhere, I could have still been in this boat. But maybe not. Probably not. Because with my skin coloring and my stupid teenage choices to tan, I was definitely giving melanoma the finger. Ugh.
Susan will be the sunscreen queen. No adorable Coppertone Baby here. My baby will be under an umbrella when Oscar pulls her swimsuit bottom down.
P.S. This blog is not going to become "Mary Jane's Battle with Cancer" Blog. I have a touch of melanoma. I am going to be fine. But I will give you all some periodic updates. But not many and not that often.