Several years ago, I was diagnosed with skin cancer. All of a sudden, reality set in. And it can happen to you. My world was turned upside down. I was shaken.
I was a seasonal tanner, no more than most. Yet, there I sat, with my face (yes my face) cut open, thinking to myself, “Why me?!” I think I’m a smart woman, considering my medical background in nursing. Still, I didn’t think it could happen to me. Or maybe I just chose not to think about it at all. That changed – fast!
I’ll spare you the details, but after many surgeries, I was told to “never tan again”. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s not. The first summer when everyone was wearing little clothing, showing off great tans, I was pale. I felt uncomfortable and ugly. OK, so you’re probably thinking I was overreacting and that I’m a little vain. Well, maybe just a little. But I was already approaching “middle age” and, really, don’t you think a tan makes you look healthy (how ironic), younger and sexier? So, what to do? Well, I tried the sunless tanners. Need I tell you the results? (Think pumpkin.) I even tried having it applied at a spa. $125 later, I was a shade darker, not tan. Next, off to the famous $30 shower: “aaaggggghhhhhh!!!!” is all I’ll say about that.
Just as I was getting really depressed and thinking maybe I’d get a little sun – just some color – it was time for my check-up with the plastic surgeon to whom I will always be grateful. He must have seen the desperation in my eyes when I asked him about the sun. He told me, “Christi, you are a beautiful woman, but you won’t be if you keep tanning. Not only will I be cutting your face up again, you’ll get old-looking and wrinkly. Is that what you want?” And then I actually saw his eyes light up when he said, “You know what? I saw this airbrush tanning at a medical convention in California. I really don’t know much about it except that it’s safe, FDA-approved and looks good. They’ve been using it out there for years. All the stars do it. I don’t think there are any around here, but I will get you the number. Check it out.”
So I’m thinking, Great! There is hope! I looked into that company and many, many more. I opened the first UV-free tanning salon in this area and I won one of the “One of the Best of South Jersey” after being opened for only two months. I’m making this sound easy, but it wasn’t. I made a lot of huge mistakes. (My apologies to my first customers.)
Today as I look back to write this, I am very proud of what I’ve accomplished. As they say, “We’ve come along way, baby!” We have grown immensely over the years. My personal crisis has turned into a thriving business tanning over 3,000 customers. They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and I am fortunate to see the silver lining every day in my salon as I tan a teenager who will grow up without skin cancer, my pageant girls I’m so proud of, my body builders who have taken a healthier step and my brides who look beautiful for their wedding. Of course, I feel a special bond with all my cancer patients, and I’m blessed to be able to give them a healthy little ray of sunshine which brings me more satisfaction than I ever imagined. Yes, I am truly blessed to be able to do something everyday that I feel so passionate about! Make no mistake: this is my personal little war against dangerous tanning by the sun and in tanning beds. I want you all to know that you do have a beautiful option. Just try our airbrush tanning, and then tell me why anyone would take such unnecessary risks again.