I write today, after being here almost a week, because I had my first visit to Barceloneta Beach....the place I visited here, 24 years ago.
Flashbacks...the minute I stepped foot onto the sand, covered with people in their bikinis (some just partial bikinis), laying out, worshiping the sun, soaking up the rays, baking, faced up, faced down, browning, burning,etc...I was rocketed back to 1989, when I was doing exactly that!
Today, I went to do "research", to observe beach behavior, to see what people do here on the beaches of Spain, in the year 2013. I saw hundreds of ME (me from 1989, that is)- young girls in minimal coverings, there with the purpose of getting tan.
I observed, I scanned, I clicked pics of various people, not shocked by the sights I was seeing, just noticing my mind spinning with thoughts of how much work still needs to be done, in terms of educating the general population about the dangers of the sun, about melanoma, about sun-safety. As I glanced over what seemed like endless bodies, I felt overwhelmed by what we in the melanoma community are "up against".
Any of these girls could have been me in 1989(Well, not really. I know...no texting way back then in the olden days. But I had a book, and I read for hours in the sun. I even remember the book I was reading on THAT beach..The Great Gatsby!)...
I remember the feeling of my sunburn, the intense contrast of the tan lines on my skin, the smell of the tanning oil I bought on my way down to the sea.
And that's exactly what I saw today- the altering of DNA via UV rays. It was painful to see. What I wanted to do was magically pop up a HUGE screen, take out a large and very loud megaphone, and announce that Dear 16 Year Old Me was about to be shown to every single person on this beach! But, of course, that was not a possibility. Instead, we have to keep doing what we are doing....educating as best we can, in hopes of reaching as many people as possible.
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."
~Vincent Van Gogh