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Here Comes the Sun... And There Goes Laura!

Now that it's fall, it's time to divulge a (not very well-kept) secret. I hate summer -- truly hate it.

There are a lot of reasons for this. First, I hate being hot and sweaty. Second, my fibromyalgia flares up a lot in the heat and humidity. Third, and the point of this blog -- I do not tan. I burn.

Not a little burn that turns into a nice tan. I really burn.

You know those risk factors for skin cancer: fair skin, blue eyes, etc? I am pretty much a poster child for those risk factors. Sunburn and I have a long, antagonistic history. Let's begin with high school.

As a pale (pasty white) teenage girl in the '90s and '00s who had a pool at her house, well, let's just say it wasn't the ideal situation. This was the era of tanning bed mania. While everyone was tanning, I was by the pool getting sun poisoning. I didn't often wear sunscreen because it wasn't cool. At least, I didn't think so. My friends rubbed oil to deepen their tans. I turned various shades of red -- from blush to apple to scarlet -- got more freckles, and often got cold sores to boot. On a great day, I'd have all three at once. Occasionally my scalp peeled. That was cute.

One Saturday, some friends of our family came over to go swimming. They were Cuban, and they had the most beautiful natural tans. The four kids were my sister's age or younger. I decided this was my day. Surely the sun would reward all of us with equally beautiful tans. I decided to help it out by applying baby oil to my skin. Fast forward about eight hours. You know when you're roasting a marshmallow and it catches fire how the exterior turns dark brown or black and just peels right off, leaving the inner part of the marshmallow, not even slightly warm, behind on the stick? My skin did something very similar.

I was in so much pain. My skin was dark brown and crispy, and it was peeling off in hard flakes, leaving behind oozy pink skin underneath. It was the worst sun poisoning I've ever had, and if one day God forbid I have skin cancer, it will be because of that day.

Fast forward again to another tanning fail.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but sometimes it takes me a while. After college, I was working at WebMD and bringing home decent paychecks. I decided to spend the money wisely and started going to a tanning bed. And I did tan. A bit orange, but a better tan than I'd ever had before. I was thrilled. And then one day at work, a very wise lady I worked with (who managed the skin cancer content on WebMD's site) asked me very nicely but in a very concerned tone why I was risking getting skin cancer.

At the time, I had this idea that if you got skin cancer, you could just go have it removed and you'd be all set. As it turns out, that's not really how it works. She kindly explained to me how skin cancer actually spreads, and it freaked me out. Here I was, a prime candidate for skin cancer, tanning every two or three days,not to mention damaging my skin and causing wrinkles. I cancelled my membership and stopped tanning.

Jeremy doesn't really have to worry much about sunburn. And lucky Alice got her dad's skin, so hopefully she won't either. Meanwhile, I'll be over here putting on my SPF 40 and sitting under an umbrella, reading a good book.

Bye, summer. Good riddance.


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