Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tan Lines

Warning:  It has taken me some time to compose this blog.  When I was away in NB over Christmas I received word that Jillian had passed away.  Since then I have listened to the podcast of her service, cried many tears for a young woman I feel was robbed of her life and mourned not only for her but myself in the process.  I was worried that I would not be brave enough to finish this entry, but with the help of reading her brother's new blog and with the good news I got yesterday (another blog will follow about that) and some coaching from my counsellor, I have persevered.  This was not easy and it isn't pretty so read with care and remember there is nothing about Melanoma that is nice so sometimes I find it hard to say nice words about it!

I am more then willing to admit that before I developed Melanoma I thought that tan lines were a normal by-product of summer life.  They weren't something that I strived for, nor were they something that I worried about getting.  They just were, and were largely on my feet (PS: I love flip flops).

Now when I think of tan lines I see something like this in my head......


This tanned skin is a beautiful golden brown.  Has been slathered in olive oil.  Baked at a perfect temperature for the perfect amount of time.  The only difference between this delicious looking chicken and the image that follows, is that I just want to rip the skin off of and eat and lick my fingers!  What I can no longer figure out is why are people cooking themselves?

All I can think is that this poor girl is going to hurt when the sun goes down for the day.  Oh and that she is a total idiot for letting this happen to herself!!  Does she know what she is doing to her body?  Was this an accident?  Was this on purpose?  What idiot does this to themselves on purpose?
I have had friends since I had stage 0 Melanoma removed in 2008 go to the beach with me and get a burn.  I have gotten a strange burn myself since that removal on my thigh where I obviously just missed with sunscreen.  The thing is I was conscious of what happened and I made sure everyday after that burn that I did not burn again.  Well that was until I took Zelboraf, but I will leave those side effects for another shovel on another day.
"What good are they if you don't show them off?"  The better question is what good are they if I get cancer?  What good are they if I spent all this time wanting to be browner, tanner, healthier looking, slimmer, etc. and the damn sun just gave me one of the deadliest cancers there is because I was the f#cking dipshit that thought using sunscreen wasn't necessary?  Do the women in this picture even realise that the colour of their bare ass is their natural skin colour?  Do they even care what they have done to their bodies?  Do they want to end up like so many young people have in recent years, 6 feet under because they wanted a tan?

So it seems that some women wear and want tan lines as a badge of honour.  Others hate the fact that they could have them and then try to hide them, correct them, avoid them at all costs.  There are some people that even go as far as laying in tanning bed naked without protective goggles so they have 0 tan lines!  They are all "yolo"ing their lives away to vanity.  I mean we can all be vane, but to me it takes a special person to reach that level of vanity.  It is also my guess that they are the ones that have the self esteem of a newt, because they let society and Coco's tan back at Cannes all those years ago tell them what beautiful is.
Now I realise that not all of us are perfect and that for the most part all of us have been ignorant about the sun, sun damage, sun burns, tans, tanning beds, etc., and I don't want to come across as being superior about all of this.  I know there are tan-orexics that have come around and become defenders of the pale, some having suffered, some just having been scared, and regardless how you got here I am glad that you have.  The more people we have out there that aren't afraid to stand up and say that this is wrong, hopefully the more people we can help to love their skin as it is and decrease the number of people fighting against Melanoma for their lives...  These next three images are of 3 women that make me proud to have pale skin.  One is a surviour with a voice for us like no other, one is fighting for her life with me and one is a former tan-orexic that I am very glad was scared straight.


I am sad to report that Jillian is no longer with us.  She lost her valiant battle to this horrible disease before she ever got to live the life she wanted for herself.  Her family has lost an amazing daughter, sister and friend, but for their loss Heaven has gained an angel like no other and for those of us fighting we just have another angel on our shoulders whispering for us to never give up!
I remember the day that I realised how fragile Jillian's life was and that she herself saw that too.  Her mother made a facebook post about something that Jillian said, in that moment my heart ached for a person that was no more then a picture for me.  I cant remember the exact words, but they were saying that her want for a tan, going to tanning beds, spending hours out in the sun was what was killing her!
Jillian was 23 years old when she passed.  Where were you are 23?  Where do you want to be at 23?  Does a person even fully know who they are at 23?  Can you really say you have lived your life if it is taken from you are 23?  I have a hard time answering these questions, as they are ones I have been asking myself every moment since I was diagnosed just with the number 32 there instead of 23. 
I look back at high school and think of all the girls that looked like they were extras in Willy Wonka. 
I mean really who looks better in this picture?  I know girls that didn't look like Willy that is for sure.  Some of them have gone on to have jobs in the medical field, many are nurses and I wonder if they realise yet what they have done to their bodies!  I know that Jillian knew what she had done.  I know what she would tell all of those people out there that are still trying to look like the have lived in the tropics their entire lives.  My guess is that I cant say it as nicely as she or Chelsea would, being blunt gets the best of me and I know it.
In general we all still have the same message, DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE!!  Learn from those that have made mistakes before you.  Take up the fight for those that have been lost.  Educate yourself, your family, your friends, about what Melanoma is because believe me it is way more then JUST SKIN CANCER!!  Stand up to the tanning industry.  Make our governments make changes to protect future generations.  Protest in your own way to make a difference.  Ask strangers if they have had 'that mole' looked at.  Harass the people that put all the images out there that show tan as being good and the norm.  Give yourself a voice with a cause and run wild with it!!


  1. Jillian's exact words were, "Laying out and tanning beds pretty much screwed me".

  2. Speechless....thank you for sharing.

  3. thank you for reading Valerie! I once had an English Teacher named Valerie, I hope that if she reads this she ignores all of my grammar errors because I sure try too. :)