December 19, 2011

my response to "dear 16 year old me" skin cancer video

A friend sent me a text this weekend: "Posted a link to a touching melanoma video on Facebook. Sure you've seen it already, but obviously made me think of you." The video, called Dear 16 Year Old Me shows real people, not actors, giving advice to their teenage selves. Some are malignant melanoma patients, while others lost loved ones to skin cancer. I hadn't seen it, so I watched.

As a two-time malignant melanoma survivor, I cried...okay, who are we kidding, there were huge, heaving blubbering-like-a-baby sobs as I ugly cried my way through it. One year ago today this week I had surgery to remove my second occurrence of skin cancer.

Inspired by the video, I wrote a letter to the 16 year old me. Here it is.

Dear 16 Year Old Me,

You're going to get malignant melanoma -- twice -- once in 1999 at the young age of 24 and again in 2010 when you're 35. As a light-skinned redhead, it was pretty much inevitable, even though you wear gobs of sunblock.