For God’s Sake: STOP Tanning!
Exactly two years ago today, July 3, 2012, I was told I have two cancer tumors on the conjuctiva of my eye.
They both turned out to be melanoma.
The causes of these eye tumors are not 100% known. However; my doctor, a top notch specialist, did mention the sun and the thinning ozone layer and the dangers it poses, especially to people with light eyes like mine.
This is me about three months before the diagnosis. I already had a little visible blob on my eye but ignored it because I never thought melanoma could happen to me. I always wore sunglasses, never laid out in the sun and if I was exposed to the sun, I used sunscreen. At that time, I didn’t even know you could get melanoma on your eye.
On July 6, only three days after my devastating diagnosis, I had my eye surgery. The recovery was rocky and difficult. Eight months later the cancer came back. I was treated with a radiation cap that was sewn directly on to my eyeball.
I went from searching ebay for great deals on designer clothes to looking up information on blindness, braille and eye enucleation. I went from enjoying NYC to spending days after days inside a house with drawn curtains because every speck of light felt like knives in my post surgery eyeball.
I have long term side effects. My vision in the bad eye went from 20/16 to about 20/40 and it is not corrigible with glasses. It will only get worse until I have a full blown cataracts. The glands in the eyelid got messed up by the radiation so I get styes all the time. My eye is red very often. I have to go back to NYC once every four months for a checkup. I live in fear of another re-occurrence and the possibility of losing my eye.
We won’t even talk about the financial burden of all this. You may say “I have insurance, I am fine.” I thought the same. Only to learn that the really good doctors may not accept insurance at all.
Nowadays, I get really irked when I see people laying out in the sun. I get angry because there they are, basically calling the cancer to settle in their body, to sink its claws in their skin and flourish into a metastatic nightmare. They lay there baking in the UV rays, roasting like meat.
I want to stick my head through the planks of their backyards, hang on the chain link fence around the pools, wave my arms in alarm stomping around them on a beach. Wake the hell up! Every minute spent out in the sun gets you another minute closer to skin cancer, eye cancer, or at least an epic burn.
Read this story about how quickly things can go bad. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancers, but for more than 80% of skin cancer related deaths.
What possible justification does anybody have who still goes out and tans on purpose? To look healthy? No, sorry, the only look achieved by tanning is one of extreme ignorance.
Perhaps the tanners want to look like this woman on the beach? Or the infamous trucker? Or they want to damage their eyes like many surfers do?
I know this blog post won’t change the world. I know I will have to keep walking by the browned bodies laid out on the towels and chaise lounges. I know people will keep getting melanoma and keep dying.
But maybe, if at least one person pauses and changes his or her habits, it will be worth it.
And finally, to my fellow non-tanners: Here is to getting carded way into our late 30s because we didn’t accumulate the tanner’s wrinkles.