a landscape of sushi, watermelon, umbrellas and water bottles

Vacations and Skin Cancer

I was born across the street from Newport Beach, California at Hoag Memorial Hospital on Pacific Coast Highway. If there ever was a “Beach Baby,” I was it. I grew up with sand between my toes, the ocean breeze in my hair, and tan lines. I loved The Beach Boys. From La Jolla to Santa Barbara, I found the surf and sunburns found me.

A lot has changed

Unfortunately, I am probably one of the last people that you would want to invite to the beach now. An exotic cruise, a condo in the Carribbean, a time share in Boca, you name it and I am no longer the life of the party. After my melanoma diagnosis in 1988, I knew that I had to make different choices. I no longer felt like spending eight hours in white hot sand and sitting in baking oil. I had to start turning down invitations. I gave no explanation, I didn’t want to.

Sun boundaries

I have come to terms with the beach. We are now on speaking terms. Actually, we are on my terms. I am ok with going to the beach, but with many conditions. I will go if my vacation party or day group understands my parameters. They understand that I will not be out in the sun between 10am-2pm. They understand that I will cover up and probably bring an umbrella for shade. They understand that I might need to leave for better shade at a time of my choosing.

Mutual care and understanding

They understand because I have told them my situation and have gently talked with them about safe sun care practices. They understand because they know that my admonitions are based on care and concern and do not come from a judgmental spirit and are not meant to be critical. The truth remains, though. I am probably not first on everyone’s list to vacation with at Club Med and I am fine with that. I have learned to enjoy other vacations.

Finding new ways to vacate

Whether it be vacationing in the mountains or day-tripping on a museum tour or botanical garden, I have found new ways to fill my Facebook and Instagram pages. Let’s face it, I have no business being on a surfboard anymore, not because men my age should not catch waves, but rather I don’t need to smash my head on coral reefs anymore. I have enough challenges. Stitches and concussions are no longer needed.

Other healthy choices

When I lost 70 pounds, I gave up a lot of sacred vacation food and beverage. This has added to my social dilemma. If someone invites me to spend a day at the beach with fried food and beer, my first thought is to head for the hills. I can only imagine people’s consternation when I bring a gallon of sunscreen, a parasol, ice water, fruit, and sushi. But, that’s the deal now and I make no apologies.

No apology needed

I make no apologies because I believe that I am worth the trouble. I make no apologies because I really am 10,000 times more concerned about my health than other’s opinions about my wise choices. So, if I am in your town and you want to hang with me and talk about the weather, we can find a nice shady spot and I can graze over some California rolls or a veggie plate and you can order what you want. I’m good with that if you are.

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