Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Sun, co-written by: Claire

I have yet to put in writing my thoughts about the sun.  I am a melanoma patient, however that may pan out in the future, at this point in time it is what it is.  I have always loved the sun, it makes me feel good, I haven't spent any time in it for the last year, I miss it tremendously, and every single day in the back of my mind I mull over how to handle myself sun-wise this coming summer.  

The doctors said that I need to stay out of it, wear a hat, stay in the shade, wear sunscreen and UV-protective clothing, stay away from windows and even be careful in the warmth from inside the car windows - avoid it at all costs.  In the next breath, I was told that I have as much chance of developing a NEW melanoma as anyone else does, or at least as much chance as I had before developing the first melanoma. 

Either way, fact is, my being in the sun will not affect my current melanoma, it doesn't make it grow, or spread, it is not a tumour that feeds on UV rays... what I have now is a disease inside my lymph system, spreading, metastatic: 
metastasis [muh-tas-tuh-sis]
noun, plural metastases [muh-tas-tuh-seez]
1. Pathology.  the transference of disease-producing organisms or of malignant or cancerous cells to other parts of the body by way of the blood or lymphatic vessels or membranous surfaces.

That's what I have.  SO, what I take from this is that I still have to be safe in the sun, as everyone should be, but... I may occasionally improve my quality of life by not banning myself from the thing that makes me most content and warm.  I am a sun baby, through and through. 

  (Cass says I was an ugly baby!?)

A new friend in my support group asked me point blank if I have yet to forgive myself for that?  I couldn't answer... I think I have not, but my personal jury is still out on whether or not I need to forgive myself for it.  

In any case, I wanted to share with you Claire's speech for her public speaking assignment in grade seven this year.  She wrote about the Sun.  

The French Immersion support group Canadian Parents for French (CPF) holds an annual contest for the best French public speaking: Concours.  In grade five both Claire and Cassie won at their school level, and competed at the Board level one March 2013 evening in Chesley.  
Claire won second place that year, and after the first place winner could not go, Claire stepped in when invited to say her speech at Glendon College, York University, in Toronto.  We three girls went and made a weekend out of it, rented a dorm room at the university and everything, it was fun!  Claire won prizes and accolades and she got the itch for the performing arts. 


Last year their class was not given the opportunity to do speeches in time for the competition, but this year they did... and poof!  Again, Claire won their grade level and went on to compete in Chesley.  She placed second again - congratulations Claire!! (and we may or may not be secretly hoping that she will be called to Toronto again in May). ;-) 

I didn't get a chance to mention this before, because I was ill after my treatment and behind in blogging, but yes yahoo great job Sweetie!  I was not able to attend her speech performance in Chesley, as I was just returning from Sunnybrook that evening and had to remain in isolation.  But Cass, their Dad, and their grandparents went, and Dad video'd it for me and shared it on Dropbox. Yay technology, and yay Dad, thank you.  
Claire did an amazing job, what a trooper.  It was a heartbreak for us when she came home with the winning announcement and I had to break it to her that the Chesley night was the same as my Toronto night.  But she did it anyway, and smashed it.  :-)

Missing that performance compounded the guilt I have been feeling for missing so much over the past year.  I missed the girls' 12th birthday party (which I always host, much to the chagrin of the neighbourhood LOL) because I was two weeks post-op and couldn't move.  That was a terrible weekend, though my out of town friends Sonya and then Crystal swooped in for visits and rescued me from imminent depression and brought me food and thoughtful gifts, I missed the girls so much it physically hurt, moreso than my elevated leg and percoset-hazed headaches.

We got over that of course, in part due to my friends, Mom, family, and the girls' graceful nature, and proceeded with a summer of hit-and-miss-me attending traditional outings: I missed Claire's piano recital, but I was able to not-very-gracefully attend Cassie's guitar recital.  We were able to make Canada Day fireworks at the beach but Cassie had to lug my anti-gravity chair through the sand for me.  And back to school shopping happened, but in short bursts and then with me throwing a hissy fit that I had to sit down in the mall.  Frustrating!

Then came December, and my thyroid surgery.  And wouldn't you know it?  Damned surgery date was the day before Cass and Claire's opening performance of Narnia with Kids in the Meaford Hall.  I cried endlessly over that one, they had been practicing all Autumn, and now I was going to miss it.  Again, between Scott taking me to Toronto and staying there with me, and my Mom and the girls' Dad doing the home stuff, we got the girls fed, watered, rested, and taxi'd to and from every performance. I finally got to see the dvd of the performance last weekend, it was awesome of course.  

Then Chesley March 25 2015, and I missed it.  Next week Claire has her piano class/competition in the Kiwanis Festival in Owen Sound, and we have been advised it is Monday April 13.  Seriously!?!  That is my follow-up with the Endocrinologist.  Aaarghhh  I refuse to miss it.  I postponed my appointment, and will now see the Endocrinologist the same morning as my next CT scan at Sunnybrook, Tuesday April 21, 2015.  So what if I have to drink the pre-CT radioactive stuff while chatting with the thyroid Dr.?  I don't care how little sleep I get that day, I am not missing Claire's Kiwanis next week!  

Anyway... I did promise a speech didn't I...?   Here it is, Claire's grade seven speech about the sun, even I learned a couple of things from it!  

Please keep in mind that it has been translated from French to English, so it may seem a bit bumpy in a couple of places, but the smoothness just didn't quite survive the translation.  Also imagine her saying the numbers in this speech LOL if you know French at all you know that the key to success of any public speaking feat such as those numbers is to print them out in word form on the cue cards for practice when memorizing!

I hope you enjoy:

Le Soleil - The Sun     by Claire Richardson

What is in the center of our solar system, and in the center of our lives?  Greetings...ladies, gentleman, dear teachers, parents, and friends, today I will be talking about the sun.

As a warmup, I will be talking about the science of the sun, and how it affects your mind and the body.  Sadly, there are some negatives also. 

The distance of the sun to the earth 149 600 000 kilometres - that is 402 150 trips from Meaford to Toronto and back!  The earth is an oval, so the sun is closer to the earth more times than others.  Its closest July 4th, and it is farthest January 3rd.  The temperature in the middle of the sun is 27 472 540 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is HOT!

That brings us to what the sun does for our bodies.  When I think of the sun, the first thing I think of is vitamin D.  When the sun shines in the window, it does not give us vitamin D, as the sun in winter does not either, the rays are not strong enough, it is too cold.  But when we absorb the sun's rays directly, UVB energy converts to a form of cholesterol in vitamin D3 that travels to the liver and kidneys, where it meets with oxygen to become active.  The vitamin D from the rays helps our bodies to absorb calcium for strong bones, muscles, and a good immune system. 

The rays of the sun are white, which means that they are mixture of all of the colours in the rainbow, but when they pass the atmosphere, gases, dust, crystals of ice and little balls of water divide the rays into different colours, bouncing some toward toward our eyes and absorbing others.  The colours we see depend on which colours are reflected and absorbed. 
The sky is clear because the gases in the air reflects a lot of the blue light of the sun, the sky turns pale when extra dust or humidity reflects other colours. Sunsets are yellow-red if the air is dusty, because the rays of the sun have to travel farther in the atmosphere where only yellow and red are absorbed. 

The atmosphere of the earth blocks 88.7 per cent of the UV radiation of the sun that penetrates the atmosphere.  The 12.3 per cent of rays that travel have positive and negative effects.

Some positive effects include it helps some skin conditions.  UV is used in the treatment of the skin condition psoriasis, that is a condition when the skin loses cells too fast and develops itchy scaly patches.  Exposure to UV stops the growth of the skin cells and relieves the symptoms.  
It helps your mood because the sun stimulates the pineal gland in your brain, which produces a certain chemical named tryptomine.  That chemical improves mood.

The negatives... it is one cause of cancer.  UV is a human environmental carcinogen.  It is the most prominent and universal cause of cancer in our community.  There is strong evidence that the three types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, are caused by exposure to the sun. 

More than 90% of skin cancers come from UV rays.  Sun also causes skin burns.  UV burns the skin - a sunburn is a burn that happens when your cells are damaged, your cells are damaged by the absorption of UV rays.  Extra blood goes to the damaged skin to repair it, which is why our skin turns red when we have  a sunburn.

A lot of exposure to UV rays is dangerous to your immune system, because sunburns can change the distribution and function of white blood cells.  It ages your skin: UV accelerates the aging of your skin, causing wrinkles, brown spots, and loss of elasticity in your skin. 

The sun can do good things, the sun can do bad things.... Either way, the sun is in the centre of our solar system, and in the centre of our lives.

By: Claire Richardson         


<----- My Mom and Moi,        
Port Stanley, ON,  
197---something?    :-)

Article & Photos © Natalie Richardson 2015                         

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