Sun Worship and Sun Smarts


One of my goals is to create a new culture around sun loving.  The sun, provider of light and warmth, has been worshiped forever.  Life itself would not exist without the sun. I am not promoting that we become vampires, no, no, no!  Let’s use our #sunsmarts!

I grew up with no regard to the power of the sun, the potential for life threatening disease.  We were the generation that actually had the time to relax at the beach versus earlier generations that worked long hours.  We sought the sun versus shade and craved that Coppertone tan  (remember their illustration of  a child with a white butt in contrast to the glorious tan?).  Sunscreen, what was that?


Sunshine on the Water Looks So Lovely (John Denver)

As a child, I was given one of my father’s white Navy hats to wear; it never covered any of my face but I sure looked cute! My nose peeled and off to the beach we went again.  Cover ups were for foggy or dreary days when we turned bluest of blue, before admitting it was time to get out of the water. Yes, we were an East coast, sea loving family and when, as Navy brats we moved to Minnesota, we were loving those 10,000 lakes.  Vacation ALWAYS meant water, fishing, and boating. Weekends , too, were about being on or near the water.  If not, we were surely outside.  Remember the freedom with the parental guide of “be home when the street lights come on”?

As we grew, my older sisters loved to use something to lighten their hair. I want to call it “Sun In”?  We were envious of each other’s tans, talked of best sunburn remedies, and were sure that we looked best with our deep summer skin color.  I would joke that my  career would be beach chair tester.

Your Sun History offers facts about the sun’s history but what about your personal sun history? For me, sand buckets of wonderful memories come to mind; whether beaching, boating or (sun) bathing our family loved this time together.  It was the start of a life time of sun worship and I never would have thought skin cancer would effect me. Or you either…what are your sun traditions? The first step to change is to consider this question.

Did you know that melanoma can have a long history in your body?  You may have damaged your skin as a child or it may have happened last year.  Those damaged cells sit in-wait.  Determining what is the catalyst to activate that killer cancer is one of many melanoma mysteries.

 Like A Red Rubber Ball (Paul Simon)

I sit here watching the sunset over the ocean (yes, I live across the road from the Atlantic).  The beauty of the sun is breathtaking…oh, that is so not the right wording for melanoma patients.  Sun worship is deeply ingrained in our culture from beautiful days to lovely sunsets, from growing our food to keep our seasons revolving.


Let’s learn to admire the sun from afar, appreciate all that solar power, and create a culture where people worship their health more than their tan.  That’s not easy if your life has been about being outdoors. The sun is here to stay, so it’s more about teaching others and teaching ourselves, too.

What are you changing to be safe in the sun? I’d love to hear from you!  #melanomatheskinwerein #melanoma #sunsmarts

We can-cer vive!



Thin Skin

via Daily Prompt: Thin

black animal eye
Photo by Pixabay on

Do you have it, thin skin I mean?  I find with melanoma, and think it may be true for many cancer patients, that some times my feelings are raw, dangling nerve ends.  Honestly, I don’t intend to let things bother me.  Mostly, I am upbeat, positive, and oh so grateful to be alive!


How do you deal with things that people say or do that feel like a negative charge racing through your body, zapping you of any positive energy? I have always been one to ask how someone is…because I really want to know and really care, too.  When people ask me how I am, whoa! Do they want to know what is really going on? Best buds, yes, they do.  The lady at the bank not so much. I have learned to say “I’m doing okay” to the casual askers, because really they don’t need to hear that my scar tissue feels very tight or that my knees are killing me today.  When you think about it, you aren’t going to hear about their life challenges either so get over the woe is me thing!

People tell me I look good.  I enjoy hearing that but in the quiet of the night I wonder if people think I should have melanoma marks all over my body?  Or I should be deathly thin because I have cancer?  Friends, family, and acquaintances may not know how to talk about cancer….remember, everyone feels differently and absorbs information differently.  Thin skin or not, enjoy every compliment and kind word.  You deserve it!

Right now I choose to believe I am on a healthy path with almost a year since my last tumor was removed.  That opens me up to feeling the possibilities, to feeling lighter, to having a tougher skin with less fragile emotions.  Don’t get me wrong, I am tough and a fighter.  You’ll never see a lot of tears with me, and hey cancer patients we all process in our own way.  Don’t feel you are a mess or not doing the human interaction thing well.  We each do it our way and we love the skin we’re in!


Odd Case

One of the most interesting comments I had last summer after two facial surgeries and talking with my radiation oncologist about the “plan”….”you’re an odd case, Janis”.  Now really did that need to be said?  I mean, really, I’ve been living with me for almost sixty years, this is old news! (And a great story for another post!).

So carry on!  Thin skin is an emotional trigger for sure as we absorb so much more than those around us can ever imagine.  Don’t wear a coat of armor to protect yourself but do what works for you to find the beauty of life. And with all that we cancer patients are taking in, seek counseling if needed.   #melanomatheskinwerein #thinskin #cancer

We can-cer vive!


Adore Your Core…Values, That Is

via Daily Prompt: Core



The Apple Core Doesn’t Fall Far from the Compost

Happy Mother’s Day to all!  For many of us, our Moms and Dads are where we get out core values from….is that a good thing?  Some times yes and sometimes noooo!  I love my Mom dearly yet when she has said things such as “oh, you are a relaxed housekeeper, aren’t you?”, I tend to feel myself tiptoeing away from the conversation!

What she and my father did teach me is multi-fold.  Now that melanoma cancer is integrated into who I am, I am so very grateful for the lessons I learned from my parents.  Never one to do things the easy way, I am humbled to have strength, integrity, and the ability to take the knocks.  Yep, some days are easier than others but it is those core values that help with moving forward and not letting the challenges keep us down.

bird-nest-eggs-blue-158734.jpegTo the Core

Just a short ditty today as I am immunotherapy pooped!  Listen to your core values that pave your path and grow with you.  Starting in the nest and moving beyond parents, there are many people and circumstances that give us snippets that become part of who we are. Cancer patients and their families have much to incorporate into our lives so remember who you are and live in your strength. Take the best of that core, filter out the negative, and put those positive pieces together.  You’ve got this!

We can-cer vive!


Stage Left, or Was That Right? Cancer Staging and Life


We’ve all been there… the stage, waiting for the show to begin. Excitement as the lights flicker, the signal for us to prepare ourselves…find our row, comfy on in to our seats, and review the program.  Anticipation quickens the heart, eyes scan the audience, as we settle in for what promises to be an entertaining evening. When friends or family are to be on stage, whether a first grade year-end concert or a Broadway show, the pride becomes multitudinous.

All The World’s a Stage (Shakespeare)

all the world.jpg

Staging, in the world of cancer, is a whole different beast. Those of us who have cancer, state our stage in writing, speaking, or correspondence; this neatly places our disease into some type of category for all to consider. Learning that you are a Stage II is scary but for those around you it may give them relief.  Finding out your disease is a Stage IV is completely unnerving and will set your people into places we hate to see them go, never mind what it brings to ourselves.

There is no glamour or excitement in having your life medically staged and this is not the show that any of us want to open the curtain to.  Labels have always been reprehensible to me, and yet essential, too.  A conundrum for me!  Yes, as a librarian and lover of order, I like things manageable, but I am reminded of my son struggling with learning disabilities as a young boy.  When we narrowed his disability to dyslexia, we were able to focus in on how to best accommodate his learning process. Ideas came from this discovery and my son was able to “learn better”, as he put it.  He also wanted to know why he was “stupid”.  My point, labeling is a means to best understand (usually with a broad umbrella) a person, a place, a political view.  A label or a staging does not define the person (as in “stupid”).

You are a 10!

The American Cancer Society has charts for different cancer stages; I have linked the melanoma skin cancer stages.  I think all cancers have similar staging, though each is unique in its progression and treatment.  When first diagnosed in 2015 as having Stage II melanoma, I think I may have looked at a gazillon online sites to read about Stage II.  Did I think if I read enough of the same information and tables, that I would find one that would cure me?!!!!!  The year 2017 brought another melanoma diagnosis and Stage III; this news was frightening, but the information was part of my script, my medical drama, and led me to a better medical plan.


We’ve all been there… the medical stage, waiting for the show to begin. Anxious now, knowing you have cancer or that a loved one does, and wanting to know that number, a piece of the prognosis.  Will it be 0 (yes, there is a stage 0 in cancer) or 4, or somewhere in between? And then, there are subsets within those numbers! Remember, cancer staging doesn’t define you.  It is a category, useful to your medical team, your family and friends, to you.  That number gives everyone a sense about your cancer diagnosis, a way for the brain and the heart to make sense of something that is terrifying.

Yes, your cancer staging matters and remember, it is just one part of your life’s script.  It’s not meant to direct your entire existence.  Learn to live with your cancer information and use it to give yourself the best possible life. We are fortunate to live in a time where there is a plethora of medical options and scientific data.  Incorporate your medical information into your life, be who you are, and live for today.

We can rock this cancer!

Keep it real and I will post ideas on how to manage staging and all the “stuff” whorling through our minds, whether cancer patient, caregiver, friends, or family.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

We can-cer vive!