Yesterday my social media pages lit up with the name Dawn.
I didn't know her, but people across the world were mourning her and because I saw words that connected me to her—wife and mom—I decided to read her story.
I haven't been able to get her out of my mind since. I've never felt comfortable writing about someone else's story or giving any kind of perspective about a person I've never met. But I feel like she would have been okay with it; I think she wanted her words to travel as far as they could.
Dawn was married to a man she loved, she was mother to children who are the same age as two of mine, and she was born the same year as me. She spent her growing up years unprotected in the sun and loved the feeling of warmth across her shoulders. Just like I did.
I thought of the countless times I've been careful to apply sunscreen to my children, but waved off the need to apply one more round—to myself. And that's where I need to make a change. I owe it to my children to be a good example and take care of my own health.
It's not the only way I've failed. I'm ashamed to admit I've used a tanning bed. Sometime after my youngest turned one, my body declared a hormonal war on my face, and I opted to spend time in a bed to try and clear it up or disguise it with a "healthy glow". It was right before my husband's holiday work party and I was embarrassed by my skin. I told myself I was doing it for him, but that's a lie. He would be angry to know I ever had that thought or made such a foolish decision.
I let my need to impress others take precedence over my own health. It was so wrong. And, Dawn, I promise it will never happen again. A little less than a year after that holiday party, my family doctor found a mole she didn't like. She was concerned enough to send me to a dermatologist, who was concerned enough to have it removed.
So now, as we all wait eagerly for the sun to send its warmth, I am making a promise to myself (and my children and everyone I care about) to protect my skin and to remind you to protect yours.
I read Dawn's last blog entry, written only a handful of days before she died, and have pressed her final words onto my heart:
Check your skin people. Check your skin.