Welcome to all of you following the SAMS blog-hop! Thanks again to Disney Bird for hosting!
It's a hot, sunny Saturday here in New Jersey... the kind of day I used to relish as a kid growing up at the Jersey Shore. We moved there from Brooklyn, NY, when I was nine years old and boy, after spending the previous summers playing in a sweltering concrete courtyard, it was as if we had moved to Paradise! If it wasn't raining my mother would pack up her six children (yes, six!) and we would stroll down to the boardwalk and spend the afternoon either splashing in the salt-water pool or searching for shells and building sandcastles on the shore. The smell of Coppertone has the power to bring me right back to those carefree days! I remember my mother slathering the sweet-smelling stuff over every inch of our pale Irish skin before we could turn over a single shovelful of sand.
I had less time for the beach as a teenager; like most of my friends I had a full-time summer waitressing job by the time I was fourteen. But the beach was still gorgeous when I flip-flopped my way down to the water in the late afternoon after a full day's work, carrying nothing but a towel, a good book and the obligitory bottle of sunscreen - SPF 15- the highest you could get in the 70's.
I have teenagers of my own now and no longer live three blocks from the beach but, to tell you the truth, I don't really mind. I have a very different relationship with the sun since I was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer in 2001. I no longer think of the sun as a big yellow face in the sky wearing sunglasses and a smile. Today I see the sun as both friend and foe; I'm happy for a sunny day but wince at the thought of exposing myself to it's damaging rays.
As fate would have it, the same dermatologist who identified and removed the potentially fatal cancer from my leg eventually recruited me to work in his office where for the past ten years I have witnessed the effects of over-exposure to the sun. Biopsies reveal Basal Cell Carcinomas, Squamous Cell Carcinomas, and the deadly Malignant Melanomas on a regular basis, most of which from the skin of surprised individuals who swear that they are "very careful" in the sun.
"Sure, you're careful now," the doctor will say, "but I'll bet you had more than one blistering sunburn as a kid."
"Oh, yes," the patient will reply, "lots of them...I would peel like crazy, but I'm very careful now!"
The doctor and I will then nod sympathetically before scheduling him for surgery. If the diagnosis is Melanoma he may need to see an oncologist, depending on the stage of the cancer. (I was very fortunate the doctor discovered my cancer "in situ" or in it's earliest stage.) Some of our patients are not so lucky...
So when my daughter, T., came home from a short stay with relatives at the Shore with a glowing red burn on her chest, you can imagine my reaction. "How many times have I told you to re-apply your sunscreen?" I demand. She apologizes, but not before chiding ME for giving her MY Irish skin! Teenagers! Its like my IRISH grandmother used to say: You can't put an old head on young shoulders. Well, at least I don't have the same problem with B. He always complies when its time to cover his body with sunscreen spray. "It tickles!" he squeals. For him, its a fun sensory experience! At least I won't have to worry about him getting burned!
So, if you're ever at the Jersey Shore (or one of the Disney Parks) on a sunny day and see me running after my kids with a bottle of sunscreen, you'll know why.
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