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Skin cancer has been a part of my life since I was 20 years old.
I have always loved being outside. Growing up in Kentucky, I spent as much time as I could in the sun. I come from a family of sun-lovers who vacationed at the beach each summer, but sunscreen wasn’t part of our lives. As a teenager, I tried to get that ‘deep, dark tropical tan’ by skipping the suntan oil and just slathering baby oil on my skin!
I eventually tanned, but I often ended up with a mild (and, sometimes, a substantial) sunburn.
Those actions were not smart. For anyone. Anyone can get skin cancer, but there’s a greater risk for people like me:
- a lighter complexion,
- skin that burns, freckles, or reddens easily,
- blue or green eyes,
- blond or red hair,
- certain types and a large number of moles,
- family or personal history of skin cancer.
I can put a check mark on almost all of the risk factors.
So, after that first frightening diagnosis in 1984 that involved several surgeries and left a prominent scar across my chest, I made a conscious effort to protect my skin.
I was more than a little surprised when I received a second malignant melanoma diagnosis in 2016.
Malignant melanoma is the third most common skin cancer. It is more dangerous and causes the most deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to see a doctor if you notice changes in your skin or mole or if you have a sore that doesn’t heal.
if I notice anything suspicious on my skin.
I still love being outside, and I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and sunshine…but I’ll be enjoying it with my daily dose of sunscreen!
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly to treat.
Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths. The majority of these three types of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.