Do you have fair skin, blue or green eyes, live in a very sunny part of the world, spend a lot of time in the sun… The list can go on and on about how most of us fit one or more of these categories that puts us at greater risk for skin cancer. I am a huge hypocrite in writing about this topic since I am a fair skinned light eyed person that lives in a sunny area and spent way too much time in the sun over the years. I used to lay out with baby oil lathered up on my white skin just to burn and maybe gain a tad of color after the redness faded. This is how many of my summers were spent during my teenage years. I even went to the tanning bed! If only I knew then what I know now. These days it is a daily routine to put on sunscreen after washing my face in the morning, even if I do not have plans to spend a lot of time outside.
Most people don’t realize that they are inadvertently exposing themselves and their kids while they drive, or even in a home without window shades/curtains. New dermatological studies say skin cancer in the US is much more common on the left side of the body, due to UV rays coming through side windows in cars. The average American spends 101 minutes a day in the car, generally unprotected from damaging rays. So it might not be a bad idea to put on your sunscreen even if you are just planning to drive to the office and sit at a desk all day, you will still be getting sun exposure.
I am sending out this post with the hopes I convince some of you to go get checked out by a dermatologist. I have never been checked and a friend told me she just went to do so and I should too. I figured that wouldn’t be a bad idea, so I made an appointment. I had two “suspicious” looking moles that the Doctor removed to send out for biopsy. She told me this is fairly routine and that I should be checked annually. Three days later I received a call from her office asking me to come in.. my biopsy came back showing melanoma cells from the mole they removed from my left thigh. This really caught me off guard. With the exception of my teen years I have been pretty cautious of over exposure to the sun, how could this be? Apparently, the damage was already done. So I went in to get a “punch biopsy”, which is like putting a cookie cutter on your thigh and pushing it in one inch deep and cutting all the flesh inside that radius out. I was numb so I did not feel a thing. I did not watch this either.. however my husband not only watch, he video taped it for his own morbid viewing pleasure, men. I got stitched up and sent on my way to become the biggest sunblock pusher on the planet. Two weeks later I get word that they were able to remove all of the bad cells and they were contained within the margins that they removed, thank you God!
So there is my personal story with skin cancer. Please get yourself and loved ones checked, spread the word! This month there will be free screenings all over and many family friendly 5k walk/runs that support people suffering with skin cancer. http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/what-we-do/free-skin-cancer-screenings
Do you have a personal story you would like to share about skin cancer???