But it's not for what you might think!
My body is currently covered in 2-inch bandages; a sight I've unfortunately become all too familiar with. And when these ones come off, there will be more to follow. These bandages are covering up my latest round of biopsies. Biopsies of spots where skin cancer has put down it's ugly roots yet again.
I found my first suspicious spot at the tender age of about 21. After a couple of years I came to the conclusion that it wasn't going anywhere on it's own so I decided to have it checked out. Low and behold, my first Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). It was located on my forehead, a couple of cm's below my hairline.
When the dermatologist told me what it was, I was what anyone would expect at that age, quite nonchalant about the whole thing. What's one spot? And it's so small. Well let me tell you how wrong I was.
I never could have imagined how financially and physically exhausting a seemingly simple diagnosis like that would end up being; even when it is a non-melanoma cancer. 16 years later and I have lost count of the number of biopsies and BCC removal surgeries I've had.
"So you're really young, how did you get this?" the plastic surgeon asked me as he meticulously cut, stretched and stitched up the massive lesion in my forehead. You see, surgery like this is a hell of a lot more common in people over the age of 50. When you're young you're invincible right?
Because, despite my mother having been dealt the same cards, sporting scores and scores of her own battle scars; that must have been what I believed.
But, I wasn't invincible. I was a typical teenager and I thought I knew better... in fact, I didn't think at all. I was a young girl, who like most young girls, was hopelessly vulnerable to the things that made me feel beautiful.
That tan that seemed so important then had no real impact on my memories or my experience. Now I'm paying a heavy price for being a self-absorbed teenager who thought that being fair-skinned wasn't good enough.
My severe case is somewhat rare because, in addition to having scorched my skin to the point of blistering and peeling on many occasions, I am also genetically pre-disposed or at higher risk of developing BCC's.
I know that now. So these days, I'm smothered in factor 50 sun cream and am usually sheltered from the sun. But the damage was done decades ago.
Skin cancer changes you. It means a lifetime of fear and worry about the sun. It means insanely expensive creams, dermatologist appointments and ugly scars... so many ugly scars. Non-melanoma skin cancer is not something you have zapped off like a wort and it goes away. The process is painful, the wounds are shocking... and did I mention the financial burden?
The sun that serves as a sparkling, steady source of endorphins, energy and delight is indeed still something to be enjoyed. But for goodness sakes... everything in moderation has never been more important than in this instance! Protect yourself from it. Smother yourself and your kids in factor 50, wear your hats, and shade yourself where ever possible.