Baz Luhrman was right. Even back in the late ‘90’s during that dreadful spoken-word graduation address song of his that kept getting played on the radio. Most of all, wear sunscreen.
I went to the dermatologist last Friday, mostly to get a post-transplant baseline checkup since the biggest risk of getting a transplant (besides dying, of course) is developing skin cancer. I also had a red spot on my forehead that mimicked dry skin that would heal and become shiny only to become dry again. Since January. So it was time to get the look-see.
Luckily the spots on my leg, chest and hairline were, in the really sweet dermo’s words, signs that I am getting old and that I got too much sun when I was young; ie, nothing to worry about. The thing on my forehead, however, was indeed precancerous and needed to be removed and biopsied. He assured me that it wasn’t melanoma or the other invasive types of skin cancer, but an early cancer nonetheless.
So some lidocaine, a hole punch, a skin shaving and a couple of stitches later, I was on my way home, determined that someday soon I would no longer have to look down the long, dark depths into puncture wounds on my body. From bone marrow biopsies to the hickman hole (which still is under appropriate dressing) to the new little hole in my forehead, I just decided that I was so over the very disquieting sensation of seeing open holes when I look in the mirror.
Yeah yeah. Poor me. I’ll take your sympathy on the hip bone holes and the chest hole. But this forehead hole? I’ve had this one coming for a long, long time.
Consider that, in the mid-1980’s, I would lay out in the sun with my sister and her friend Christine wearing not sunscreen but baby oil. Those were the days, weren’t they? Before baby oil and sun exposure were listed in the same risk matrix as unprotected sex and junkie hookers? Good times, good times.
Then in high school I fell in love with and set about wooing and dating Christopher Mancini (not his real name), a sweet hunka hunka beautiful Italian high school amore. Oh my lord, I loved Christopher Mancini. I loved his parents, his dog, his Nonni and Nanno. He was the man I was going to marry. Just as soon as I got myself tan enough to not glow in the prom photo next to him. I hied myself to Tropic Tan where I baked and sizzled myself to a miraculous-for-me shade of vanilla latte. And oh how cute those photos were. And how I dreamed of tanning all the time so I could try to pass for a Catholic paisan when all his family arrived for the wedding and oohed and aahed over me during the dollar dances. Yeah. It was indeed amore. Little did I know it was also moltissimo stupido.
Then fast forward to college when I'd go out in the sun, maybe not to specifically get a tan, but certainly without any sense that sunscreen might be appropriate or necessary. Then cue also a bikini shopping trip for a trip to the Cape with my boyfriend (that era's future Mr. Haggis that wasn't) during which I looked at myself in the unforgiving mirror and said, "F*@# it. I'm sorry, but brown fat just simply looks better than white fat," and started tanning again for my trip.
Never mind that back in 2001 I decided I was going to Mystic Tan myself into oblivion in the summer and then attempt to channel Uma, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett during the winter. You know; "winter white." By that time I had come to the tearful conclusion that skin starts to look old long before you feel old and that maybe it was time to stop kicking the sh*t out of my poor epidermis. Unfortunately, the damage (thank you, 1986) was already done.
So although I wear sunscreen (Mustela zinc oxide-based for babies, actually) and advocate the use of sunscreens as if they are condoms, I had long-since earned that forehead lesion before last week. Now I'm on the every-6 month check up schedule, and all I can do is tell you kids to stay in school, eat your greens---and most of all, wear sunscreen. :)
ps...Did I mention that some of my eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back in WHITE? Not gray, not blond. White. So now with my new skin care regimen, I seek your prayers that it all turns out looking very "Swedish Snowboard Champion" rather than "Weird Albino Girl." Let's hear it for the (Very) White Girl look that will be on all the runways this winter season.