Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Encounter of the Tanner Kind

Not my kitchen
I knew the day would come.  I’ve read many blogs and accounts where people associated with the melanoma cause have had encounters with people hell-bent on visiting tanning salons.  For the most part, folks generally bite their tongue so as not to seem intrusive, although some do mention the dangers.  Today, I had my first such discussion.

I noticed that one of my co-workers (I’ll call her “E”) was increasingly matching the shade of my maple kitchen cabinets.  Another, much more aware colleague pointed out that the first gal was known to use tanning beds.  I pondered if I should say anything or just remain quiet.  I chose to speak.

Later in the afternoon, I approached E under the guise of discussing a new purchase requisition policy.  After the professional chit-chat, I commented that she must be spending some quality time outdoors.  She raised her thumb and said, “I love a tan!”

“You’re not going to a tanning bed are you?” I asked.  I got a sheepish grin and nod in response.  I merely grimaced as if I'd just tasted a bad apple.

E chimed in, “Well, I use the spray tan as well.”

“But you still use the tanning bed?”

“Yes, but I’ve been tanning for 30 years and I…..”

I interrupted with, “Have you been to a dermatologist?”

“Well, like I was saying, I’ve been tanning for 30 years and I haven’t….”

“Have you been to a dermatologist within that time?”



“Do me a favor E, if you insist on tanning, go see a dermatologist.  Will you do that?”

She agreed that she would, but with the same conviction that my son uses when he says he’ll stop playing the video game “in a minute.”

I didn’t preach about the dangers of tanning and, despite her advanced age, the damage she’s doing to her skin and health.  I knew that she wasn’t going to hear it.  But I decided to ask about the dermatologist.  Perhaps her admission to not having seen a doctor put a little bug in her brain.  Perhaps one day, she’ll decide maybe she should see a dermatologist.  And hopefully, she’ll confidently walk up to me afterwards and say, “See?  I saw the doctor and he gave me a clean bill of health!”



  1. Hopefully.

    Good for you for saying SOMETHING. I saw two teenagers in the gym today, posing in the mirrors taking pictures of themselves, and they were as tan as tan gets. I walked away.

    I'm proud of you!

  2. I have these encounters way, way more often that I'd like. It sounds like you handled it pretty well though! Sometimes I feel like people are just going to do what they do no matter what I (or anyone else) tell them.

  3. Good for you, Al! Proud of you (and I love your kitchen!).