Thursday, August 15, 2013
This blog is kind of all over the place, so I hope you'll bear with me. My feelings are a total jumble.
I am really sad about the death of my former sister-in-law. She was only 50 years old. She was a woman who took care of herself. She was very thin, exercised a lot and watched what she ate. Her hair was always done and she had a standing appointment to have French manicures on her nails and TOENAILS!! She had lovely jewelry and always "dressed to the nines". Some would say she was "high maintenance" but she made a great living as a surgical nurse, so why not?
One of the things she routinely did, for years on end, was indoor tanning.
Now no one has said if her melanoma was caused by years of tanning bed use, but we all know it's bad for us. According to a recent Mayo Clinic study, the incidence of melanoma has increased eightfold among women ages 18 to 39 since 1970. "Melanoma is a new epidemic in young women," says Jerry Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologic surgeon and author of the study, who admits even he was shocked by these findings. "Other studies have shown an increase, but this study found melanoma occurring in women 705 percent more often. It's astounding."
My former sister-in-law finally went to the doctor with a small spot near her navel, and once it was even diagnosed she was on the downslide to death. Seriously. They did one exploratory surgery but the cancer had already spread to multiple organs. About 5 months later she was dead. Her 17-year-old son has lost a grandfather and a mother within the space of 3 months.
Now with all the information about the dangers of tanning, I think: "What a dumb thing to do to put yourself at risk. What a shame she had to die over something so unnecessary."
But then, I find myself thinking: "WELL, just because you don't care about tanning doesn't mean you aren't just as DUMB or WORSE! Because I *DO* engage in other, self-destructive, risky behaviors. Eating crap is self-damaging. Being 15 pounds overweight (while better than 50 pounds) is still NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I carry a lot of visceral fat (around the middle) which is the worst kind and needs to go. Drinking alcohol is self-destructive, unnecessary, and spikes my blood pressure. I smoked cigarettes for THIRTY YEARS, which of course is THE most preventable cause of early death. Yes, even though I don't tan, I certainly have and continue to engage in behaviors that are risky and will eventually cause my death.
This has been such a wake-up call. My dad's death at age 85 was in the natural order of things. The death of a woman 9 years younger than me has really caused me to look in the mirror, and I'm not happy with what I see. So far I have dodged my own bullet, but only with luck and the grace of God. Now it's time to do better. It's time to earn the days I have in front of me, and honor the body I have been given.