Wednesday, October 12, 2011

dear 16-year-old me.

I went to the beach this summer for the first time in a few years. I wore a bikini for the first time in a few years. I laid out and hoped for a tan for the first time in a few years.

I didn't put sunscreen on until I had been at the beach for an hour. My reasoning: I wanted a tan and I don't burn easily. Guess what. I burnt. My face, chest, legs, stomach, arms, back... all red. Bright red.

I went to work that afternoon and a co-worker shook his head at me. He asked, "Haven't you ever watched 'Dear 16-Year-Old Me'?" I told him I had never heard of it and promised that I would watch it. I didn't watch it. Not that day, not that week, not that month.

I finally watched "Dear 16-Year-Old Me" this weekend. And I shivered. And I got teary-eyed.

You see, I know people who have had melanoma. My dad had melanoma. He was lucky; he caught it early and had surgery to remove it. Others aren't so lucky. I might not be so lucky. You might not be so lucky.

Please watch this video and share it with everyone.

P.S. I went to the dermatologist last year to have a mole checked. He decided that the shape and colour were concerning so I had it removed. It wasn't cancerous. Phew. But, that was before this summer. Before I went to the beach and got sunburnt. I'm going to check my skin regularly and I'll visit the dermatologist again if I notice anything suspicious. Will you do the same?


  1. I watched this video shortly after Grandad had passed. Just sitting here thinking about the video, and not actually watching it, is making me emotional. Grandad's first round with cancer was melanoma on his back. He had the spot removed and went through an intense month of chemo. Something he told me was the hardest thing he ever had to do. The doctors told us that the chemo would not prevent the cancer from coming back. That melanoma is the sort of thing that WILL come back at ANY time. Could be in 5 months, could be in 5 years, could be in 10 years. No signs, it'll just be back.

    Four and a half years later, it came back…in his brain. October 17th, 2010. The start of the hardest 7 months of his life, my life and our lives thus far. Nothing can describe the pain, mourning, sadness and longing that I feel everyday. At least three times a day I think about him, and think about how he looked during those 7 months.

    So, this video really hits home. Especially now after witnessing my Grandad's battle, I'm so cautious about how I treat my skin. My entire family is the same way. I'm an advocate for sunscreen, and insist to my friends that it really does make a difference. A tan isn't always the most important thing about summer. Take care of yourself. Believe me, you'll thank yourself in the long run.

  2. I always used to spend weeks with my dad camping. When I was 5 or 6, I would try to remember to put sunscreen on my sisters and I but without my dad's help, it was tough. I have had multiple VERY BAD sun burns, most of which happened before I hit my teens. Recently, I've had small moles (but moles nonetheless) appear on my body. I spoke to a doctor about it 6 months ago and they told me I was young and healthy and not to worry about it. Maybe I should get to a doctor again and this time, when I bring it up, I should ask them if they've ever seen "Dear 16-Year-Old Me". Thanks for posting this!

  3. Melissa - Thank you so much for sharing. It's true, a tan isn't the most important thing. Health and family. Those are the things.

    Stephanie - Did the doctor even check the moles? If not, it's probably a good idea to get them looked at. I know a good dermatologist!


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