Saturday, October 1, 2011

Right now I just want to cry

I'm so upset. I went with mom today to take her kitty to a place in Lake City that has a visiting vet. They have a van and set up a mobile vet's office in a parking lot and you can get your pets' shots and vaccinations at a lower cost. So we were there waiting and one of the vet techs had her hair back in a pony tail. She had blonde hair and fair skin. I saw that the back of her neck and her shoulders were BRIGHT red. There was no denying she had a sunburn. So I said to her "Wow, you really got burned, huh?" and she smiled and said "Yeah... so?", then just seemed to drop it. I heard mom behind me mutter "Uh oh, here she goes...". The girl kept looking at me out of the side of her eyes like she expected me to jump her or something, and I just stood there uncomfortably. I wanted to ask her if she had sunscreen. I wanted to pull down the collar of my shirt and show her my huge scars. I wanted to tell her "Please, don't get sunburned like that again. You don't understand what it might cost you in the long run". Instead, I kept my mouth shut until they were done with the kitty, turned around, and walked back to the car.

I felt embarassed for having melanoma. I felt embarassed for wanting to save someone else some pain. I'm sitting here and I still feel awful. I'm angry and I want to cry at the same time. I want to make my own t-shirt, purple, (size XXXL because I'm a large girl), I want it to have a black ribbon on it, and I want it to say "If you could see my scars, you'd never tan, you'd never sunburn, and you'd get your skin checked". And on the back it would say "I have Melanoma, I have CANCER. It almost killed me. It still might".

Then I wouldn't have to say a word.

I'm not a Melanoma nazi. I'm not a know-it-all. My body has scars. My family CRIED over me. I CRIED myself. I was terrified. You see that great big orange ball in the sky? You get close enough to it, it Will KILL YOU. You get enough of it, IT WILL KILL YOU. You wouldn't walk around in Chernobyl and dig in the dirt day after day would you? Laying out in the sun does THE SAME DAMN THING. It's called CANCER. I've never used a tanning bed, but I know many have. Again, the same damn thing. If you are fair skinned and have a history of skin cancer, same damn thing. Go play in Chernobyl. Then come cry to me when you're in the infusion ward of a hospital getting chemo.

I know this vet tech is thinking "Today some weird girl commented on my sunburn, like, what's it to her?" and this is what I should have said...

Today some stranger with cancer, who has been through hell the past 6 months, loved you enough to want to help you from ending up like her.


  1. I have thought the same thing. I wish that all situations were the same and that the same response could be used. It is so frustrating. "So?" could mean so many things. I have been tempted to just carry a small tube of sunscreen to offer someone if they are burned, that could be an opening for a friendly chat about sun safety while they apply it.

  2. I know how you feel. I went to a pool party last summer hosted by some good friends, and I was the only one hiding from the sun and not sporting a deep tan. Everybody there knew what happened to me, but it's had no effect on anyone's behavior. I keep my mouth shut in such situations, but feel like I shouldn't.