I lost my father to malignant melanoma.  Remember when tanning beds hit their newbie prime in the 80’s? Yes, I’m proudly dating myself.  It was as if those tanning beds were the final straw to break my father’s faired skin back.  After a few months of laser tanning, my mother discovered the bleeding mole he had been scratching on his back…diagnosis malignant melanoma.

I remembered the night prior to his surgery.  I wasn’t home.  My mom sent me away to a friend’s house to spend the night, a school night.  I was quite the nervous wreck as a second grader those two days.  Well, the surgeon carved out the melanoma and his sweat glands.

That was 1985.

Cut to 2008. Diagnosis malignant melanoma again, but now it has taken residence all over his body.  Melanoma was now sucking the life out of his organs and his being as if a plethora of leeches.  Five months later he passed.

It may be easy for many to tell you don’t tan, wear sunscreen because of skin cancer this, skin cancer that.  It is even easier for you to ignore their messages of caution.  Well, call me “easy” because it was extremely easy peasy to make up my mind in 1985 as a second grader never to tan again and in 2009 to spread that healthy message to you here on the interweb galaxy.

Let’s be vain, but let’s stop at cancer (and wrinkles).  Have your skin checked once a year by your doctor.  Always be on the look out for changing moles. Have a close relative that has been diagnosed with melanoma?  Then you should have a specialist check your skin twice a year.  Wear broad spectrum sunscreen.  Oh, and I’d rather you absorb the questionable ingredients of orange-tastic, faux tanners than those you-must-be-crazy tanning beds.  Having to wear those crap sun cups on your eyes should give you a clue that those lame laser bulbs kill…

Some factoids for you:

  • Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and worldwide. (Melanoma Research Foundation)
  • Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, including eyes, scalp, hands and feet. (Melanoma Research Foundation)
  • It takes only one blistering sunburn, especially at a young age, to more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life. (Mayo Clinic 2010)
  • Exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75% (IARC Lancet Oncology July 2009)

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