Wear Your Sunscreen – A Cancer PSA

Posted 13 November, 2013 by Trish in Life / 35 Comments

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First, let me apologize for the creepy intense-stare picture. There’s a story behind it, but that’s not the point.

See that spot by my eye? The one inside the circle? If you were to guess that it was cancer, you would be absolutely correct. Would I ever have guessed that it was cancer? Well, this picture was taken two years ago and I thought it was just a little spot–maybe a little wart or a raised mole. It wasn’t until dear Scott nagged me into going to see a dermatologist, two days before I had my baby, that the area was biopsied and I found out that I have a Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is a benign cancer (yay!) and it is the most common type of skin cancer. It affects a lot of people; chances are if you ask around you’ll discover all sorts of folks who have had a spot or two removed or know someone who has. And if you have Basal Cell Carcinoma, the chances of you having another spot are great. As far as I’ve been able to research, this type of cancer is not life-threatening, though left untreated it can become disfiguring as the cancer roots grow deeper and deeper–sometimes even into the bone.

I have fair skin and have had my share of sunburns throughout my 32 years. Bad sunburns. I am now pretty religious about applying sunscreen if I’m going to be out in the sun for periods of time, but I don’t think about the little things like a 30 minute jog or taking my daughter to the park. When I went to see a surgeon about surgery, she told me that this is a very common spot on the face for Basal Cell Carcinoma…because of driving! And sure enough if I didn’t spend two hours of my day with my left eye facing the sun. (Also interesting, she said she sees these spots on older women but on the right side of the nose from riding passenger). But really I figured I would have had at least another decade before I needed to worry about things like skin cancer.

And I definitely didn’t want to have to worry about such things right after having a baby. But here we are.

Today I am having a procedure called Mohs to remove the cancer. The procedure is highly effective in removing all of the Basal Cell roots so that the cancer doesn’t return. Unfortunately it’s difficult to know just how large an area is affected and this is the part that frightens me the most. The spot in the picture has grown a little in the past two years and I don’t even want to think about what parts of my eye could be affected by the cancer. Hopefully it’s as simple and small as the area that was biopsied.

After the Mohs, I will go from the dermatologists office to a surgical center where a plastic surgeon will reconstruct the area by my eye–most likely using a skin graft from my other eyelid. This is the scary part as I have no idea how drastic the surgery will be, I’ll be put under general anesthetic, and the recovery period is two weeks. I’ve been instructed not to bend over or lift anything more than five pounds for two weeks. Yes, my two month-old baby is ten pounds. I’ve been quite upset about the entire situation, but I’m grateful that I learned I have cancer before it got out of control. And certainly now I know what to look for in the future.

So do me a favor, yes?  Well, besides crossing your fingers that the Basal Cell area is minimal, please wear your sunscreen and protect yourself!

35 Responses to “Wear Your Sunscreen – A Cancer PSA”

  1. Thinking about you today! I, too, have very fair skin and a family history of skin cancer. Guess who wears sunscreen year round? This girl! Wishing you the best of luck and a speedy recovery.

  2. I just found out about two months ago now that I have (or had) melanoma. I had a few moles on my back that are no bigger then a pencil eraser. Honestly they didn’t even look crazy. After the mole was found to have melanoma my Dr went in and cut a much larger area around where the mole was removed and we discovered that we caught it in time and it hadn’t spread. Now I am having all moles removed off my body that are about that size which are about 6. I just had another one removed yesterday. In the area of the melanoma I had about 4 moles so now I just have to hope the rest of them are just as good. It is very very scary to think what would’ve happened had I waited. I would like to tell everyone that if you have a mole that is that size just have your DR remove it. My Dr waited a few years before deciding to remove it and now I wish she had just done it right away. I did tan in tanning beds in high school and I know if my parents would’ve had to sign off on that it would’ve never happened. Now I am sitting here with stiches itching on my back. Please Please if you are reading this wonderful post…. listen to what we are saying. It really might save your life. You may want to add this video to your post Trish.. it is amazing. I am Melanoma free right now! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4jgUcxMezM

  3. I had a good sized melanoma removed from my chest 3 1/2 years ago. Luckily it was confined and hadn’t spread, so no further treatment was needed. Since that time, I’ve had 2 other areas removed that were atypical – one just about ready to turn into melanoma. I see my dermatologist every 6 months now, I was a tanning bed junkie and loved being in the sun, using baby oil and iodine as a sunscreen. And I paid the price. I haven’t been in the sun at all in these 3 1/2 years. I’ve learned my lesson – hopefully not too late.

  4. I really hope that everything goes well for you today. I find your post quite scary as I have a tiny spot in exactly the same place as you. My back is also covered in lots of little moles/freckles. I have often wondered about them, but assume that something so tiny couldn’t be dangerous. Your post is a good lesson to us all. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I’m thinking about you today! I’m glad your mom is close by and can help out with your girls and give you some if that comfort and love that moms are so good at giving! Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

  6. I’ll be thinking of you today, too. My father has had many of these patches removed, and since I have the same fair skin and freckles, I always use sunscreen… and wish my girls would, too :-(

  7. Thinking of you today! I’m sure the spot affected is teeny tiny and I pinky promise to be ever vigilant about sun-screening myself and everyone within slathering distance.

    You take care of yourself and follow the directions, missy. These two weeks will fly by!

  8. Ti

    Everything was be fine. So glad they are doing something about it and you are very sweet to post a PSA for us. I am horrible about sunscreen when it comes to my face. It’s in my mineral powder but probably not enough to really do much.

  9. You have been in my thoughts ever since I saw your Instagram this morning. Please tell Scott to let us know how you are. And yes, so grateful he got you to go. Now I need to go…I have a spot in nearly that same exact area.

  10. One of my coworkers went through something similar just after she gave birth to her son. It’s difficult but she’s doing good now. She carries sunscreen with her at all times and will give you some if you don’t have any. But she constantly reminds us all to wear sunscreen.

  11. Thinking of you! I have so many freckles and moles that I’m terrified of going to the dermatologist (and I horrible sunscreens in my teens thanks to my acne medication). Hope all goes well and you’re back carrying little miss around very soon.

  12. Wishing you the best. I’ve had some abnormal things removed but they were benign, also. Husband has a little bump that looks a lot like that and he refuses to wear sunscreen (*idiot alert*). Will have to tell him to get the doc to look at his. The two weeks will go quickly.

  13. Three years ago my husband went to a dermatologist to have a some spots on his face and body looked at. They did quite a few biopsies and when the results came back we were told he had both Squamous & Melanoma. He’s been going for the past 3 years, mostly every 3 months to have other spots checked. He had lots of brown moles and flat spots on his chest, belly and back that we didn’t even think anything of. Come to find out the worst Melanoma was one on his side that he had when I met him 26 years ago. In all those years it had never grown or changed shape.
    At this time he’s only going every 6 months unless we notice a change somewhere. Anyway, my point is that even if you have a spot that you really don’t believe is worth having checked out, it is.

    Will keep you in my prayers.

  14. Oh, Trish! I’m glad that Scott nudged you to go. I’ve been shouting the get your moles checked PSA for a long time, too. I have a ton of moles and I’ve had some bad sunburns in my life, so I’ve been going to a dermatologist for about 3 years now. I typically go twice a year, unless I get a clean bill from the dermatologist to not come back for a full year! It’s probably time for me to go actually. I’ve had some “abnormal” moles, but nothing scarier than that, but I’m constantly checking my moles to make sure they aren’t changing. I get so nervous that we’re going to miss one, especially on my scalp. I try to always wear hats when I’m going to be out in the sun for long periods of time. I’ll be thinking of you in the next couple of weeks!! I’m sorry you can’t bend down to pick up your baby… that has to be so hard! *hugs*

  15. You are in good hands if they decided to do Mohs right away. My husband had a Mohs surgery 18months ago. But it was a third times the charm thing…when his basal cell kept popping up in the same place (which it’s not supposed to do), they figured it was a deeper problem. But if they would’ve done Mohs first it would’ve saved years of trouble and only one surgery instead of three. My husband was down for a food week and then seemed good to go. You will do fine! I’m glad they are doing this procedure on you first instead of simple “cut-it-out” procedures.

  16. I had one of these on my leg a couple of years ago, Trish…much easier to deal with than the your face. I told the dr. I couldn’t care less about scarring…just get it off.
    Saying a prayer that you’ll have good results!

  17. This is so scary, and I am so glad that it was found in time. I hope you have a good recovery and plenty of help with your baby. I walk to places whenever I can, and have been trying this year to remember to put sunscreen on every day, whether it’s hot or not- even in the approaching winter!- but I don’t often think to rub it into the corners so close to the eye. Must be more careful.

  18. Glad everything went well and thanks for the reminder. I do forget to put on sunscreen when I’m out for shorter periods, too.

  19. Trish great reminder many of us don’t realize how important it is to wear sunscreen. My co-worker has stage 3 melanoma. She too is fair-skinned and had her share of sunburns. She had a blue spot on her arm that looked like someone had taken an ink pen and drawn on her arm. By the time she went to the doctor it was the size of a dime and was itching. It didn’t look like the typical melanoma photos you’ve seen. What she has gone through is awful, so I would also add have a doctor look at any new moles despite how normal you think they look.

  20. Oh sweetie! I am sorry to hear this, but I know what you are going through and will go through. It will probably look bad for a while, but it will heal beautifully and you;ll never notice. After a while you will not even notice in the mirror.

    I had MOHS done back in 2010 right above my lip. I was not prepared for the after picture or how extensive the incisions would be because of the skin flaps. That said these dermatologists are like plastic surgeons and mine has healed beautifully. I had some laser done immediately after to smooth the area. Yours being close to your eye, not sure that is available.

    My regular dermatologist said it takes at least two years for it to fully heal. I went back for skin checks every 6 months for the first 18 months and now once a year. No repeat findings!

    Floppy hats and sunscreen on the face and you will be fine. Thinking of you :)

  21. I read this and left a message on FB at the time. I am terrible at sunscreen and this post had me checking my face, thank you~ I’m always checking Jason but never myself!