Carmen’s “shading” grace!
To give life to someone is a beautiful thing, but to give someone a second life after it has been pulled away from their very hands is invaluable. This is something Carmen had the pleasure of doing every other day. She was a life- guard on the Singing Sands Beach, Canada. She had lost count of how many lives she had saved; it didn’t matter. What mattered most was, come sunrise, she’d get to save some more lives. Every life mattered; she remembered every one of them, the little child whose mother turned her head for a second, the surfer who lost control of the wave, the idiot who thought it was okay to run into the sea right after a three-course meal, to name a few. They all had a special place in her heart; and she in theirs. You could say she feared death or rather she thought it was unfair for someone to lose their life when they had so much left to live for, and this gave her meaning every morning, and this is what drove her on.
She simply loved her job.
So when her colleague noticed a big brown birth- mark which looked like a mole on her upper back during their morning stretches, she panicked, she had no birthmark on her back. She immediately knew what it was, they all did, the
“lifeguard’s curse” they called it – melanoma. They are two ways one can get melanoma – either due to genetics or continuous exposure to harmful UV rays. Of course, she heard things like, “maybe it’s nothing” and the sort, but she, along with everyone else, knew better.
“Some days there won’t be a song to sing in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin
The oncologist diagnosed her with stage 1 melanoma. Of course, as her doctor said, continuing with her job was out of the question. The exposure to sunlight that her job required would make matters worse. She spent many weeks indoors, with the curtains closed, in the dark. The thoughts that ran through her head plagued her. How could it be? Someone who saved lives every day now had a fatal disease to deal with and losing her job, the only thing that gave her life meaning might end up taking her life away. The irony of it all hurt terribly. She had to find another job something indoors, but even the thought of it was gravely depressing.
“You can be a victim of cancer or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.”
– Dave Pelzer
It had been over a month indoors, between doctors’ appointments and battling depression. Carmen made no attempt to visit the beach. She was trying to run away from it all mentally. To break her series of depressing days, her best friend and colleague visited her. She said she needed to get out; she recommended a walk on the beach. In spite of the fight she put up, she was dragged down over there and as she turned the corner to the shore, what she saw alarmed her beyond belief. Everyone she had saved along with her colleagues stood there next to this structure, a room on stilts. What she was told was the most moving thing ever, all the people she had saved had come together and built for her, her very own cabin on the beach. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, a very high SPF sunscreen along with alternate time in the sun and shade allows melanoma patients to enjoy being outdoors during the day. So along with limited exposure, a full body suit, and loads of sunscreen she could continue doing what she loved most!
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Anonymous
Now the beauty of the cabin was that it was completely open to the view of the beach, but not open at the same time – Graber’s LightWeaves Exterior Solar Shades allowed this. It was beautiful; her cabin looked roomy yet elegant with the shades. The fabric, made with the Phifer light-weight vinyl coated polyester yarns woven into a unique twill weave, allowed this l
ook. So she had a 360-degree view of her surroundings from inside the cabin while being protected from the harmful rays of the sun. The shades were specially picked for its sun- control fabric that regulated solar heat and cut out harsh UV rays. More importantly, Phifer’s sun control fabrics were approved by the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF), an organization established to give guidelines and screen companies such as Phifer that produce products dealing with sun-control. As per the MIF standards, Phifer had been given the seal of approval for the effective protection from the sun that their products provided for the skin and eyes. They seemed like a match made in heaven for her, considering her condition. Her fans had gone a step further and picked room darkening roller shade for inside and had a lighter tone for the outside roller shades that enabled advanced reflection of solar heat rays that allowed 90% UV blockage. 10% openness of exterior roller shades was chosen to allow maximum visibility of her surroundings.
Also, the shades were certified to GreenGuard, so it had negligible chemical emissions and was lead- free, perfectly suited for an ailing person like herself. The shades also came along with a Microban protection that prevented the growth of bacteria and mold, something that was very common in a place as humid as the coastline. Of course, it was flame-retardant, too.
“Hope is the physician of each misery.” – Irish Proverb
As per the doctor’s instructions, Carmen went in for surgery to get her melanoma mole removed. After a speedy recovery, she was welcomed back to the beach. Even though things seemed under control for the moment, she couldn’t let the possibilities of a grim future get her down. Life had a new meaning for her. The compassion and concern of the people she had saved allowed her to pick up the pieces and carry on, which was overwhelming. These people who she had given a second life to had now given her back the same. What a beautiful life!