Learning from Our Mistakes

Quote(s) of The Day:

  • ‘Money Can’t Buy You Life’ – ‘Bob Marley’ last and final words.
  • ‘You don’t have to change the world to make it a better place. You just have to inspire others to learn from your mistakes.’ – Rachel Cummings

Mistakes I’ve Made

I’ve done some stupid shit in my life so far. If I was to list all of it, it would make for extremely long reading even for one of my blogs (succinct as I am 😉).

Out of the all there are a few random ones that spring to mind;

  1. Putting my index finger in the lamp holder of a desk light and switching it on (probably about the age of 13 at the time).
  2. Going running in a sauna suit wearing no bra in an attempt to get ‘fighting’ fit.
  3. Going to a posh restaurant in Marlow, meeting Ste’s sisters, brother-in-law and close friends for the first time getting up to go to the toilet and falling flat on the floor face up only to have his mate stand over me saying ‘Oh Rach’. (In my defence I was extremely nervous and his wife had been plying me with white wine all night, how to make a great first impression eh?}
  4. Sitting on the kitchen worktop of said friend’s house being slightly drunk, not putting my hands out to stop myself subsequently falling flat into the dog bed underneath. (No wonder Ste moved up North I think he wanted to ensure his relationship with his family and friends remained)
  5. Getting a ‘five’ year temporary tattoo, that is still on my back nearly 23 years later.

The thing is we can’t dwell on the mistakes we’ve made only learn from them.  We need to live in the present using what we know. Sometimes the mistakes we make aren’t actually mistakes they lead us onto the paths we may never have been had we not done them. If I’ve learnt anything in this life is that no-one’s life is a linear path. There are peaks and troughs which at your lowest points at the time you think you can’t recover from but you can and you WILL.

Lessons I’ve Learned

  1. Going running in a sauna suit wearing no bra then jumping in the shower can be extremely painful (think papercut on your nipples and your probably not far off).
  2. Not to put my finger in anything electric ‘just to see what it feels like’ – (maybe explains the frizzy hair)
  3. Not to sit on any kitchen worksurface whilst drunk.
  4. No tattoo is temporary however, these make for great stories as do our scars they are part of our past.

Over twenty years ago two of my closest friends decided we wanted to get a tattoo but weren’t quite brave enough to get something that we may later permanently ‘regret’. Off we popped to Affleck’s Palace in Manchester. We each decided that we would have them done on our backs (‘tramp stamp’ I think it’s known as not that I agree with this term especially as I have one). Anyway, my two friends quickly chose their designs and got it done, one made a bit of drama out of it, (those that know will know whom) which resulted in a search for sugar and a can of coke and thankfully not a trip to the hospital. I however am Miss Indecisive as ever took forever choosing my design and proceeded to colour in the pattern on the ‘professional’ printed out design.

I’m pleased to say like my tramp stamp one friend still has my back (literally) and one of my lifetime best friends with a friendship spanning over 30 years and maid of honour at my wedding. The other my little friend (the only person shorter than me) unfortunately passed away to cancer at the tender age of 23. One day in the not-too-distant future I hope to get this tattoo covered up and made bigger and brighter than ever. Not to forget or regret but to represent me now, scars and all and maybe a little tribute to those that I hold close to my heart.

Mistakes I’ve Made Which I Regret

There are however some mistakes I have made that I truly regret knowing what I now know and this is what I want to articulate to you in the hope that you can make your own informed opinions and hopefully learn from my mistakes;

  • NEVER to go on a sunbed or if you have/do STOP.

At around the age of 16/17 I used to go to the gym quite regularly. This was around the time I was to go on my first holiday without my parents and a big group of friends. It was around this time the pressure was on to look my ‘best’. Ironically, I would go to the gym on a weekend and afterwards hop on the sunbed for not long but enough to get my skin ‘prepared’ for the forthcoming holiday. Little did I know the long-term damage I was doing to myself in the process.

  • Letting my skin get over exposed to the sun. Again, this is probably most prevalent around the late teenage years when regularly putting sun cream on wasn’t a ‘thing’ nor was wearing factor 50 or UV protective clothing. I remember going on my first holiday and applying baby oil on my skin in the hope of looking as tanned as my other mates at the time.

I did however always wear pants, full on length dresses long sleeve jackets unless on holiday not because I was worried about my exposure to the sun but more because I was particularly body conscious at the time. When I look back on those pictures, I would love to have that figure now maybe with the exception of the blonde frizzy hair though.

  • The last mistake I regret is not seeing the warning signs or doing anything about it when those closest to me were suffering with their own demons until damage had been done.

Food for Thought

One point I’d like to mention for those that have seen my complexion yes, I am and have always been extremely pale and had lots of freckles and moles.

However it’s not just people with fair skin that get skin cancer or subsequently melanoma Cancer Research – Causes of cancer. It’s over exposure to the sun i.e., sat in a beer garden on bank holidays enjoying ourselves (rightly so) and not regularly applying sunscreen. It’s not consciously thinking at the time of the long-term damage we could be doing to ourselves because were too caught up in enjoying the moment. I’m not saying don’t enjoy that moment but if applying sun cream regularly to ourselves and our children was more at the forefront of our minds then it would be as natural as going to the toilet.

It’s probably a well unknown fact that one of the greatest musicians that ever to have lived (and who just so happens to be one of my favourite artists) Bob Marley actually died from Malignant Melanoma (accrual lentiginous) in 1981 at the age of just 36 which started in his toenail. I myself didn’t know this until recently.

Coming to Your Senses

I did in my later teens come to my ‘senses’ and get some rather dubious looking moles and skin tags checked out and removed. These however all came back as non-cancerous. It was at this point that I stopped using sunbeds and I’m pretty sure spray tans were the new ‘thing’ so I opted for that. I often used to go on holiday more tanned than I would return. (For information you still need to apply sun screen having had a fake tan).

Now for the serious stuff bear with me….

Hope for Change

There are many things I HOPE for and CHANGE is one of them.

On point 3 above the ‘demons’ I am referring to is mental health, the issues and subsequent addictions associated with them.  I’m pleased to say that more seems to be being done to address this. Employers are now focusing on employee’s mental wellbeing more than ever (it just so happened that most employers (not mine as they were already pro-active on this front) it had to take a global pandemic for them to actually do something about it). Doctors are recognising it more and more (however this did lead to a mis-diagnoses from mine but that’s another story). More groups and communities than ever are setting up focussing on Men’s Mental Health and reducing age old stigma that men aren’t allowed to talk about their feelings and need to be the ’strong ones’. Change for me means taking a step back from my own issues every now and then and take the time to ask the people I care about how they are really feeling but actually listen and if they don’t want to talk that’s fine just let them know that I’m always there should they need.

Let’s not wait for anything to be a global issue before we actually do anything about it. Let’s be more proactive in things that could affect us and our future generations.

Change in Our Approach to Sun Damage and Skin Cancer

For me and what is obviously most important to me right now being that my Melanoma has returned I would like to see Change in our proactive approach to sun damage and skin cancer (if you’re just reading this for the first time maybe see my two previous posts When Lightning Strikes Twice and Miss-Independent) as I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this shitty disease.

Here are a few of for what it’s worth my suggestions for ‘Change’. 

1. Educate the young

Climate change means rising maximum temperatures which will more than likely see cases of skin cancer in the future. I often cringe when I see pictures of children who have been burnt on sports days or bike ability courses.

Thankfully, under the new PHSE (Health and Prevention) Curriculum which came into force in September 2020, all English primary schools must now educate pupils about safe and unsafe exposure to the sun and how to reduce the risk of sun damage, including skin cancer. (Source https://www.sunsafeschools.co.uk/)

However still many of these initiatives are optional not yet mandatory such as the installation of sun screen dispensers (similar to those you might see in theme parks and zoos). If we can quite quickly make mandatory the installation of hand sanitizers in schools and face masks, along with singing ‘Happy Birthday’ whilst washing our hands due to a global pandemic then why too can’t we install sun cream stations in our schools.

And if ‘Nitty Nora’ was a regular visitor in schools in the 80’s why not ‘Dotty/Derek the Dermatologist pay them as visit as well. Hopefully this will then educate us not to make poor decisions later on in life and over exposure to the sun.

2. Banish the beds

The current legal age limit to go on a sun bed is 18, why can’t we increase the age limit to 25. Or even better in a world where climate change is key priority ban them all together saving energy not to mention NHS funding in future years. Those shops that agree to this, offer them funding options to set up fake tan booths should they need help with promoting sustainable eco-friendly products.

Brain Farts

  • Shit all this[RC1]  was all bit deep and meaningful and I appreciate there is so much I don’t understand in my simplistic mind, politics and red tape is certainly not one of my strong points (people far more educated and clevererer (this time it is intentional Jan 😊) than me will no doubt offer their two penn’orth.
  • If you’ve managed to get to this point then thanks, I did warn you to have a good brew in your hand when reading my blogs. The trouble with brain tumours and thoughts is that it’s a bit like farts once you release one you subsequently can’t stop the others from following through.

Take care

Rachel

x x x

7 Comments

  1. Eileen
    20/02/2022 / 23:01

    Rachel you are such a selfless person. Your mindset is amazing. I don’t know where you get your strength from but I’m so glad you’re doing this. If it helps educate people then it’s worth every word you’ve written. I know you’re not going to be strong all the time so make time to take care of yourself xxxx

  2. Jan
    20/02/2022 / 23:37

    Love it Rach. Beautifully and poignantly written and as always, laced with your effervescent humour yet still you manage to get your hard-hitting message across. Sending love xx

  3. Catherine Leach
    21/02/2022 / 01:45

    Love it Rach, don’t apologise for it being long lol.
    Really insightful re: sunbeds. I, like you, are ‘pale and interesting’ and dallied with sunbeds a little in the 90s. I found they weren’t that good, they would stop me looking blue and just make me a bit peach coloured so I didn’t bother much.
    I think the old ‘fake bake’ looks better, though after the first application I have been likened to an extra from It Ain’t Arf Hot Mum (taking the liberty of assuming you know what I’m referring to 🤣). Onwards and upwards Rach!! Love and God bless xxx

  4. Lesley Bragg
    21/02/2022 / 09:27

    Well done Rachael for writing this , I to used sunbed wanting a tan , sat in the sun all day long with no sun lotion on ,thinking back now how stupid was I? I too have had horrible growths taken off different parts of my body which were cancerous. You are truly an inspiration Rachael onwards and upwards , take care x

  5. chris jepson
    21/02/2022 / 11:45

    Another excellent blog Rach, Your depth of strength is so admirable. I shouldn’t have read this whilst on an internal Teams meeting as you made me smile and laugh at inappropriate times! If there is anything at all I can help with in attempting to bring about any of those worthy elements of change, I’d be honoured to do so. Take care x

  6. Jo
    21/02/2022 / 14:45

    Another great read and I fully support your ideas #bansunbeds especially. Love you so much xx

  7. Ben Kenyon
    22/02/2022 / 08:24

    Amazing. Every word. Knew I should have put the kettle on 😉 Thanks so much for sharing such a thoughtful and impactful post… I can live with a dodgy tattoo or hair do (I’ve had my fair share!!!). But as for being blase with sunscreen and being out in the sun. Never again. 100% down with free sunscreen for all and Dermot the Dermatologist rolling up at school! Keep doing what you’re doing, Rachel.
    xx

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