Friday, July 1, 2011

Am I- gasp- TAN?

As I write this, I am admiring the sun kissed glow of all of my bare skin that I can see right now. I just checked myself out in a mirror, and the whites of my eyes look particularly white against my darker skin.

What have I done? No, I have not gone to the dark side and been spending time outside unprotected-I biked almost 2o miles yesterday, and I was sure to slather on a good amount of sun screen first. And I certainly haven't been laying in a tanning bed, which might as well be a coffin for someone like me.

I'm going to Florida tomorrow, so I went and got a spray tan. I don't get these things on a regular basis, but I do feel inclined to get sprayed a darker shade once, maybe twice a year, usually when I head south. When I know I'm going to be spending time in a bathing suit, surrounded by people who take tan to a completely different level- Floridians- I like to bring myself at least a few shades closer to them. Otherwise I am so pale that complete strangers comment about how white my body is. Not even kidding.

Sadly, in order to get sprayed, I have to visit a tanning salon. I feel a sense of disgust walking in to one of those places, because I know I'm in a place where people are actually choosing to engage in a practice that increases their chance of getting melanoma by 74%. These people make me very angry because I didn't get to make the choice they're being given. I got melanoma, even though I have never been in a tanning bed. It's a slap in the face that they're making such a dangerous choice and being ungrateful for their present health.

I'll say this once: If you use tanning beds, stop.

Here are my responses to your excuses:

1. You don't want to switch to spray because orange isn't your color? I can assure you that even on the palest of skins, the color of spray isn't orange like it was years ago. I'm looking at myself now, and to be honest, I look awesome.

2. You want to look healthy? That's nice. Does your vision of health include leathery, wrinkled skin? Excision scars? Because you're going to age more quickly and you'll need to have surgery when you get cancer. It won't be pretty.

3. It costs less to use the beds? Yes, it does. But treatment for melanoma costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Spend your money on a spray tan and you'll actually save money, and a lot of emotional and physical pain.

4. You need to get your vitamin D? True, Americans are overall deficient, but it takes just 10 minutes per day of sunlight to do the trick. Also, there are these great things called supplements. You can take a pill to get vitamin D, or you can eat your fruits and veggies.

I hope if you are the tanning type, whether it's at the beach or in a bed, you'll think about my words, and read my story. Ask yourself if these are possibilities you want to expose yourself to.

My parting plea is this: There is no occasion, event, season, or reason to get in a tanning bed. Ever. Just say no.

Hope. Love. Run,
Marathon Girl


  1. Great post! Since my dad has beat Melanoma, I have been a huge sunscreen police-woman and am constantly telling my friends to stop tanning. And you are right, the spray tans are not orange at all!

  2. Hi Marathon Girl, My name is Liz and I have been reading your blog for a while now. I am very happy that you are doing so well and congrads at the 5 year mark. I hope I do get to read a post about triatholans.
    That said, since your blog is a great resource for someone going through cancer I wanted to reach out to you to see if you were interested in a new online social support network (that I am the community manager of!) called I Had Cancer. It is a new and free social support network focused on connecting people based on experiences with cancer so that they can easily communicate with one another and share information. I would love to tell you more if you are interested, so please let me know! Because I was so struck by your writing I would love to send you an early-access pass with extra invites for others you may know going through this journey.

    Either way, thank you so much for your writing. Take care and best regards.
    If anyone is interested in I Had Cancer please email me.