Dear Sixteen Year Old Me

Earlier this year I had a skin cancer removed.

It was basal cell carcinoma, which is highly treatable when caught early like mine was.

I’m okay. Honest. I’m very glad we caught it fairly early and that it wasn’t melanoma. This diagnosis just means I get to spend more time with my favorite dermatologist on a very regular basis. And I’m becoming somewhat of an expert on sunscreen and self tanners.

Still it was cancer, and like cancer always does, it left scars.

The scar it left on the outside isn’t that noticeable and I can cover it with clothes.

The scar on the inside goes much deeper and is connected to the twisted history I have with this disease. Maybe I’ll write about all of that another time, but today I wanted to use my scar as an opportunity to provide a public service announcement of sorts.

I wish I had a chance to sit down with sixteen-year-old me and tell her that someone who could use Liquid Paper  as a concealer has no business ever sticking her body in a tanning coffin bed. She needs to know that one day she will honestly believe that pale is the new tan and that there’s not enough moisturizer in the world to undo the damage she’s doing to her future forty-plus-year-old face.

This video has been making the Facebook rounds lately. Maybe you have plans to be in the sun this holiday weekend. I’d like to post this video to remind you that “a healthy glow” isn’t healthy and isn’t worth it. And as a reminder to make sure your babies have on plenty of sunscreen. (Have you seen the FDA’s new guidance on sunscreen?)  Please pass this video on to any sixteen-year-olds you know:

While we’re talking, I would also tell her the layered perm haircut is going to be a major mistake.

And she really needs to stop cruising by Doug Tillman’s house because that is just never going to happen and honestly, she’ll be glad it didn’t.

And it really is okay to be sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Honest. The kisses from the right guy will be well worth the wait.

Yep. I have a lot of wisdom I could share with her if she’d be willing to listen.

What would you tell sixteen-year-old you?



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11 responses to “Dear Sixteen Year Old Me

  1. Jen

    Provoking, I try not to think about 16 year old me. Id probably point out that I am going to wind up all o 5 feet tall and ask myself if I really wanted to do stupid things known to stunt a growing girls growth!!!

  2. Gretchen

    Oh, Amy…I’m so sorry you had a skin cancer. I can only imagine what feelings that brought to mind. So glad you’re okay. Gonna make my nearly 15 & just 13 kids watch that video. Powerful. Too many of my friends have had melanoma. Of course, one is too many.

    Dear 16 year old me: Sounds silly to your protected, eye-rolling self, but know this–God loves you so much.

    • whimzie

      Glad you’re passing the video on to the kids. I just keep showing my kids my scar every time they complain about the sticky sunscreen. Of course, I think I may be making my boys want get too much sun because they think scars are kind of cool.

      Dear 40-plus-year-old you: He still loves you so much. (And so do I!)

  3. So many things.

    So, so many things.

    I would tell her that she is NOT invincible. Again, NOT invincible. Zest for life is good, but so is wisdom. I would make her watch the video. I would impress upon her that a life lived in step with the Lord is BY FAR better than out of step with Him. It really is. I would tell her that she is beautiful and loved and valuable to God. I would tell her to pay attention in class- it actually costs something for her to be there.

    And so many other things.

    Glad the cancer was caught and taken care of. I probably need to make a trip to the dermatologist myself. Just for a check up. Good reminder and good post.

    • whimzie

      You would tell her wise things, friend. I needed to hear a few of those things myself! I think thinking about sixteen-year-old me makes me more mindful of what I want to make sure I teach my kids. Not that my parents didn’t teach me things that I just chose not to obey, but you know what I mean.

      Call the dermatologist this week, Candace. I’m going to ping you until your appointment is made.

  4. I’m sorry about your skin cancer, Amy. I’m calling the dermatologist this morning…I have a few spots that concern me…

    Ask me this afternoon if I’ve done it… Seriously.

  5. Okay, never mind. I just called and I have an appt next week. I’m a little scared…

    • whimzie

      Proud of you for making the call. You will be so relieved to check it off your list! I’m just hating that the older I get, it seems the more regularly scheduled maintenance I require!

      I have to make my tight squeeze appointment today. You should check back with me later to make sure I’ve made MY call!

  6. Whimzie, my friend, I am so sorry for your skin cancer. But I so badly want you to watch this entire 23 minute video about cancer and the sun. I hope it helps you. Oh, how I hope it helps. God does not make mistakes.

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