Sun Spots and Sunsets by Jeanie Croope

I’ve had a heck of a time figuring out what I wanted to write for this issue’s Light and Shadow theme. It should be so easy. If nothing else I could come up with some art-related post looking at the brilliant chiaroscuro techniques developed by the old masters, like Caravaggio and implemented in so many ways in art since then. The brilliant light of the Impressionists. The gray-and-black shadows of Picasso’s Guernica.

There’s something there, don’t you think?

But I couldn’t make it work.

How about writing on how the light changes as we move into autumn? We see long shadows, earlier twilights. Deeper sunsets find brilliant oranges, purples and pinks contrasted with the shadows of the dark clouds and disappearing light, coming in to rest for the evening. Heaven knows I have enough sunset photos in my bank to illustrate an entire photo essay on the subject.

But the words wouldn’t come.

I think part of the problem in nailing this is that I am a “light” person. I prefer to see the light in a situation instead of the dark, even when the dark is pretty murky. it’s not that I avoid reality, I see it for what it is. But I’ve been around enough to know that in all tragedy or dark times, there is the light that comes from goodness, caring, rebirth.

You can call it Pollyanna. (I sometimes do.) There is little good in hurricanes or earthquakes that decimate entire communities. Yet I also see the helpers who fight so valiantly to rescue the trapped, who leave their comfortable homes to go to another place and work hard to help rebuild.

I think you can see that it is very difficult for me to go into the “shadow” mode. I don’t need to add that to bring me down when something is already swinging on the downside.

But recently, after many months of self-diagnosing (don’t do that), doc visits that offered remedies that worked for a few weeks and then didn’t, I finally went to the dermatologist for a very pesky lip problem. When the biopsy came back it was cancerous.

They told me it was no doubt from too many hours in the sun back in the days of long ago. Before sunscreen became an essential piece of summer outdoor wear. (And do you put sunscreen on your lips? You should.)

I know many readers may have dealt with squamous cell carcinoma. Basically, a skin cancer. It’s about as common as a Hershey bar at a grocery store check-out stand. Rarely are these life threatening unless left too long and metastasized. This is not your deeply concerning liver or stomach, ovarian or breast cancer.

Rick calls cancers like these “candy cancers.” You do the treatment, it works, and off you go to enjoy life. It’s a bit cavalier but in a way it’s spot on. No fun, but you probably won’t die.

But when you hear the C-word, one can’t help but feel a bit of a shadow come over things, even when the doctor has assured me that it was on the surface, hadn’t spread and that the radiation would do the trick. There’s a lot of light there.

And I see that and am immensely grateful. I keep reminding myself of that. See the Light.

But has I’ve tried to wrap my head around the fact that now I, too, am part of a club to which I never wanted to belong, there is a bit of shadow. I remember the mother who died before I was a fully-formed person, the friend who battled her cancer for years and died too young, and so many others who fought valiantly and others who do to this day.

Their cancers, I remind myself, were far more complicated than a little curable candy cancer on the lip. There simply is no comparison.

But as I watch the heron on my lake come to visit during the day and again at twilight, and then fly off into the sunset to rest, I am reminded once again to grab every bit of beauty and joy from life and celebrate it, cherish it. Next time one may not be so lucky.

There is beauty in the light of the sun. Blinding, sometimes searing, sometimes dangerous, but great beauty. And there is also beauty in the sunset, the shadows of evening, the silhouette of a blue heron, winging his way through the sky to meet the light again in the morning.

And I hope to meet that light in the morning for many sunrises to come.

About the Author: Jeanie Croope

Jeanie Croope bioAfter a long career in public broadcasting, Jeanie Croope is now doing all the things she loves — art, photography, writing, cooking, reading wonderful books and discovering a multitude of new creative passions. You can find her blogging about life and all the things she loves at The Marmelade Gypsy.

26 Replies to “Sun Spots and Sunsets by Jeanie Croope”

  1. Jeanie, I understand friend!! A couple of years ago I had two forms of skin cancer at the same time. One on my arm and one on my chest. Like you, I self diagnosed it all as dry skin and put it off for too long. The spots were removed and all is well but it did make me feel vulnerable! It’s a little scary to feel yourself moving into that category even when it’s something that can be repaired and you move on. I get it.

    From a fellow light follower. šŸ™‚

  2. I’ve had quite a few of those, and they can be really annoying during treatment but that’s just a distraction from the fact that yes, it is a form of cancer. As we grow older, it can be hard to maintain a balance between living in the light and being aware of the dark.

    1. Exactly. I keep aiming for the light but you are so right about it being difficult to maintain that balance. I hope all yours are just fine and all is well.

  3. Jeanie, So sorry you are going through this Cancer scare. Being a Sun worshipper myself, I now have yearly checks, and occasional removals. It seems sometimes like everyone I know is going through these health scares. Stay positive!

    1. Oh, yes, so many of us did that baby oil thing in the 60s and 70s! Part of it is age and we’re all getting older. Well, here’s to good outcomes on all such things for all of us! Thanks for checking in!

  4. Jeanie, I believe in light, love and joy in life. I always walk to the light — as do you. Keep up your positive attitude.Your sharing of your issues will most certainly make a difference in the lives of others. You are a breath of fresh air living the moment — and loving it all. Blessings, Sharon

    1. Thank you, Sharon. I confess, it almost seemed to silly to share — except I know other people may well put things off and sometimes a gentle reminder can be a good thing. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  5. Any encounter with the “C word” is frightening, even when the prognosis is as good as your is. It will be good to have this encounter behind you, and now you learned a valuable lesson – to keep asking when something isn’t going away.

    I really admire your ability to look to the light and to not dwell in the shadows. I must admit that I am not great at that!

    Here’s to many more sunrises and sunsets – viewed with sunscreen!

    1. Thanks, Lisa. Yes, it’s the word — too much baggage with so many of us. Thanks for the very nice words and good thoughts!

  6. Hi Jeanie – sorry to hear this news – not much fun, Iā€™m sure. Take care – there is a bright light at the end of this tunnel

  7. Yes. You have readers who constantly deal with squamous cell carcinoma. I am one. Hang in there. And remember. The dermatologist is your friend.

    1. Thanks, Jim. And it’s comforting to know that so many people I know and don’t have not only dealt with this but thrived! The prognosis is excellent — and yes, I’m most grateful for my friendly dermatologist!

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