Tuesday, May 14, 2013

To Live or To Hide, That Is The Question

The other day I was asked by a follower about my thoughts on taking a trip to southern Italy this summer.  "Is it risky to go to a place that is basically just beach, sun, etc?"  "Do I let this disease stop me?"  I love this question, and have had others ask me about similar  situations, ranging from "I'm afraid to go out in my own backyard," to, "I'm not sure about visiting an island in the bay of Napoli."  I say I love these questions because I have had all of these same thoughts, questions,and concerns.  And I know that many others have too, but may not feel comfortable asking.

So, here's my experience, strength, and hope on what this disease can do to the psyche and what I did to break out of the handcuffs of fear.

Right after my first melanoma surgery, the one on my foot, we moved into a new house.  I had picked out shades for my bedroom (prior to my diagnosis) that had some special kind of "blackout" thing on the backs of each shade, so as not to let any light in unless the shades were pulled.  When I picked these, I did it for "sleeping late" purposes, but when we moved in following my surgery, I came to see that these blackout shades had another purpose.

I spent some time in my new room, on my bed, recovering physically from the surgery.  This recovery process was fully explained in detail, with printed out sheets of instructions, etc.  But no one talked about recovering emotionally!  These blackout shades became my new "savior"!!!  Yes, I could hang out in my room, rest, heal physically and hide from the light of day with my new shades.  

Day and night, I wanted these shades closed.  I did not want to have ANY sunlight find me...anywhere.  At first I found comfort in this dark environment, but that changed quickly, as I started to feel small...small in the world, in my world, in my house, in everything!  The best way to describe it, is something similar to Alice when that room shrunk, and she felt trapped, claustrophobic, and helpless.

As Paulo Coelho says, "Don't give into your fears.  If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart."  And that is what happened.  I was cut off, cut off from everything.  My heart longs for life, living it, seeing, doing, being, experiencing, traveling, taking pictures, being on sand, near water, in places I don't speak the language, etc.  If I let my fear keep me behind blackout shades, my heart would eventually die, and my life would be wasted.

"He who has overcome his fears will truly be free." 

At a certain point, I decided to tell fear to fuck off, and to go forth with the life I wanted...
Was I rid of anxiety?  Hell no!  But, I was not going to let fear paralyze me.  This is sort of where I started thinking about bucket lists and stuff like that.  One of the many things on that list, is to see the world with my family.

And so, we GO! I go out of my house, whether it's to the backyard or to Costa Rica or wherever...I GO!  And I've learned how to do this with sun safety as top priority, so that I can enjoy wherever I am, knowing I am protecting myself as best I can.

As the summer is fast approaching, I am now in planning mode for a 7 week trip to Europe (to include MANY beaches)!  Here is how I do this with melanoma on my mind...I gather up loads of sunscreens, hats, UPF clothing, parasols, etc...and GO.  You can check out my packing list on Respect the Rays!  

Wherever you go, you can do it with sun safety in mind!  Whether it's the pool, the park, the beach, an island, whatever, always practice safe sun!
This blog post is dedicated to 2 special followers; you know who you are!  I LOVE YOU!