On the way to my hair color appointment, I had a thought (well, probably many), about popping into the tanning salon next door to my hair place. My thought was this: I'm going to waltz in there, and straight up ask them if I can tan there, having had melanoma twice. I just had to know what the answer to that would be.
Well, that's the thought that got me in the door, and here is what unfolded...
Me: Hi. Can I tan here if I have had melanoma skin cancer twice?
Young Girl: (22 years old,working there): Yes. You just have to sign something first.
Young Girl: I've never had anyone ask me that before.
Me: Yeah. Well, I'm actually not interested in tanning. I was just curious about the policies in place, and how things work here.
Now that that was out in the open, I could freely ask whatever I wanted...and I did (of course).
Me: So, you have red hair...you don't use the tanning beds here, right? Because redheads have a higher chance of getting melanoma.
Young Girl: I do. But I use it for my eczema. It gets so bad and then I'm embarrassed by it, so I use the beds to help that.
Me: But what is worse...being embarrassed by eczema..or possibly dying from melanoma?
Young Girl: I know. My mom just had a section of her arm taken off because of melanoma.
Me: OH! You should really consider the fact that you have 2 factors that raise your risk of getting melanoma- being a redhead AND a family history.
Young Girl: I know. Ya know what blows my mind?
Young Girl: That pregnant women come in here and tan!
Me: Yes, I have heard that before. It's very scary that such things are allowed. What about age restrictions? Can you tell me about that?
Young Girl: If you are 14-16 years old, you need a parent's signature, the parent must show ID, AND the parent must stay on the premises while the child tans.
Me: But that doesn't actually happen, RIGHT?!
Young Girl: Oh yes it does. A lot!
And if you are 17 or 18, you need parent permission, the parent needs to show ID, but that's it.
Me: FUCK! I'm so sad about this.
In walks a young, pale college girl...checking in at the desk where I am standing...
Me: You are so beautiful just as you are.
College Girl: Oh, thank you!
Me: Are you sure you want to do this? You know the risks?
College Girl: Yes, I am fully aware of the risks.
Me: So, is it kind of like smoking...how most people know it can kill them, but do it anyway?
College Girl: Exactly!
And off she went, into a little, scary room to lay in a bed that will give off radiation that will damage her forever.
As I thanked the young girl that worked there for her time and the information, I sadly watched a half a dozen women saunter out the door after having been radiated...while others walked in.
I left with a pit in my stomach and some tears...just thinking of how much work there is to be done, to get the truth about tanning beds out into the world! And also, I cried for those that have lost their lives to the horrible disease of melanoma because of these beds.
This blog is dedicated to Jillian H. & Jaime R.