Anyone who reads my books or my blog knows I love the power, majesty and symbolism of water. I think every single one of my books has at least one scene set by water, and the entire book, "Awakening Avery" tells the story of a woman who returns to Anna Maria Island to heal and save her family after her husband's passing. I'm even working on a new book set against the sea.
This love began in my childhood. We were a family in crisis much of the time, emotionally at odds, and barely getting by financially, but Mom and Dad always made sure we had a tent, or a camper, and eventually a little boat, so we could escape to wonderful places. We seemed to transform and morph into something better when we traveled. I can't explain it, except to say that that only other times I felt the world ease that way were Christmases when Dad would push back the stresses and return home with his modest Christmas bonuses, from which Mom would make magic appear.
So we spent the better part of our summers camping by the water. When Dad was in the country he commuted back and forth to work from our tiny campsite by Maryland's Back River and during those idyllic days we kids ran around wearing nothing but bathing suits and flip flops.
We're talking about the 60's and 70's, before we knew the dangers of overexposure to the sun. I baked on blankets, on boats, and on water skis circling the river without concern about sunburns or skin damage. My mother is Portuguese and since her olive skin could bake to a beautiful brown, I figured mine could to.
Not so. I sustained some terrible sunburns. I remember one burn that was so dreadful it was all I could do to wear a half slip pulled up over my boobs. While Tom and I dated we converted him into a sun-worshipper as well, and he likewise sustained some terrible burns. Well, as warnings began to raise about skin cancer from too much sun exposure, I held my breath, and two weeks ago the risk caught up with us.
Tom and I both had spots that just worried us. I became so concerned about the lingering, odd appearance of mine that I bypassed the GP and the Dermatologist and scheduled an appointment to head straight to a cancer surgeon. Of all days, my appointment was set for Valentine's Day, and Tom tagged along.
The surgeon squeezed him in and we both ended up having biopsies of our spots. A day later we had the results. We each ended up having squamous cell carcinomas. Fortunately, this is the least worrisome, least invasive, and most operable kind of skin cancer, but the appearance of one means that other damaged areas may also show signs of cancer, and now we each have to be scrutinized head-to-toe every six months.
It's something we don't think about doing until we have a scare, but I'm now a believer that a dermatological scan should be part of every person's annual physical. Former sun-worshippers like me should definitely get a head-to-toe exam by a certified Dermatologist, but we're not the only ones at risk. So if you see some worrisome spot that looks odd, doesn't heal, or flakes, please get it checked. And you mihgt want to check out this site.