Why I’m Now a Statistic… Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer

Two weeks ago I had a biopsy and yesterday I found out I have cancer. Not pre-cancer… the real deal. Basal cell carcinoma. I’ve learned it’s one of the most common types of skin cancer, but knowing that I now join 2.2 million other Americans diagnosed each year doesn’t make my diagnosis any less daunting or serious.

I’m still dazed in disbelief. It’s not because I’m not a likely candidate. I admit it, I am. I grew up in the sun. As an active athletic kid, staying indoors was not an option. I can still hear my mom’s repeated warnings at the sight of my golden tan or raging sunburn, “You better stay out of the sun. You’ll get freckles. Worse yet, you’ll get skin cancer.” Well, once again, Mom was right.

As a youngster and young adult in my 20’s, I spent my summers on the tennis courts, by the pool, or on a boat or bike. Winters didn’t keep me from being a UV target either. I lived on the mountain and skied competitively, so in reality, I clocked in thousands of hours under the sun on the glorious slopes of Lake Tahoe.

What actually shocks me about the cancer diagnosis is the benign nature of the tumor. I’ve read the rules for skin cancer and examined the well publicized graphic photos, but my lesion doesn’t resemble any of the textbook examples. There is NO discoloration. It’s not brown, black or red. In fact, my doctor described it as “translucent”.

It’s one of those things I noticed while putting on my makeup some time ago. I casually thought about getting this small ‘bump’ removed someday, but considered such action as purely cosmetic and neither a big deal or urgent. However, during a routine head-to-toe skin cancer exam, my dermatologist regarded the bump as suspicious.    Continue reading “Why I’m Now a Statistic… Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer”