Dear 16 Year Old Me

A warning you need to see.

I was raised in Malaysia and Singapore, back in the 60s, before SPF and melanoma were words you hear every day.

Our first home, on the island of Penang, was just yards from the beach. I was on it every day, all day.

Once, while in high school, a bunch of us from Singapore American School rented a boat to go snorkeling on the reefs a couple of miles out. I sun-burned my feet so badly that day, I had to be hospitalized.

I’ve already had a squamous cell carcinoma removed. I have to have precancers — AKs — burned off at least twice a year, using blue light or a chemical called effudex that literally removes a couple of layers of skin, so that I look like I’ve been dipped in a vat of acid for about 2 weeks.

Skin cancer is real.

It took the life of a good friend years ago. She was so young when she died. It still hurts to think about Betsy…

As summer approaches, it becomes even more important to have this talk with your teens. It seems that, especially girls, “have” to be tanned. THIS REPORT says half of America’s young adults get sunburned at least once a year.

Dear 16 year old me: It’s totally not worth it.

Care and share.