My mom was crazy about sunscreen before skin protection was in fashion. As a child, she would bathe us in lotion every time we left the house. Other teens my age would be greasing up and tanning at the Jersey Shore. I was stuck wearing hats and sitting in the shade. And yet, last fall, I was diagnosed with skin cancer.
How are you protecting your skin? Tell us and you'll be eligible to win two bottles of my favorite year-round skin care: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion. (One for you and one to give to a friend whose skin you also care about!) It's SPF 30 and it keeps my skin soft without being greasy or smelly.
Since I grew up with a mom who was ahead of her time, I never thought I'd get skin cancer. And then I noticed a small bump on the side of my nose. It didn't look exactly like a pimple since the center of it was slightly indented, but I wasn't sure. When the bump didn't go away, I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist. I hadn't had a full-body check-up in many years, so I figured it was time.
I expected the doctor to laugh and tell me in a slightly embarrasing way that I had adult acne. Instead, she took one look at my face and said, "Yep, that's cancer."
As she took a biopsy to confirm her diagnosis, she explained that I had basal cell carcinoma (BCC). "Of all the cancers to get, this is the best one." (Um. Yay?) It rarely spreads to the organs and if treated in a timely manner, it is not considered life-threatening. However, BCC tumors do grow, so the longer you wait to remove it, the more disfiguring it could be.
I wanted that sucker out fast. The doctor recommended a common procedure to remove BCC called Mohs Surgery. It's outpatient surgery with just local anesthesia, designed to remove the cancer but not much else, so it leaves the smallest scar possible.
I was so nervous about the procedure but it really wasn't too bad. Just uncomfortable at times, and a lot of waiting.
Six months later, I can still see the small scar, but most people would never notice it. I'd like to say I learned a lot of new things from this experience. But the truth is, I already knew them all, I just didn't pay attention. And now I do.
- Anyone of any age and any ethnicity can get skin cancer. Turns out, 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer by the age of 70. More people get diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, according to SkinCancer.org.
- Wear sunscreen! This one is obvious, but so very important. Everyone knows they should apply sunscreen year-round (not just on sunny days!) and reapply every two hours. My doctor also taught me to pay attention to where I am putting it on. My BCC was on that crease between my nose and the rest of my face. She said that this is an extremely common place for tumors because we sometimes miss hitting it with the lotion. Also, it's one of the first places we sweat, so the lotion gets rubbed off easily.
- Get checked by a dermatologist every year. Just like with any cancer, the earlier it is found, the easier it is to treat. If I had let that BCC go longer, the scar could have been much worse. Don't let fear stop you from making an appointment. It's better to find out early.
- Tanning beds are the worst. The stats are clear on this one. Visiting a tanning salon - even just once - can seriously increase your risks of skin cancer and melanoma.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses. I never thought about my eyes, but they are at risk to damage from the sun too.
- I should listen to my mom more often. Just please don't tell her I said that!
For more info on skin cancer prevention, check out SkinCancer.org.
How do you take care of your skin? Tell us for the chance to win two bottles of my favorite year-round skin protection, CeraVe Facial Moisturing Lotion with SPF 30. Give one to a friend whose skin you also want to protect!
There are two ways to enter.
- Comment below and tell us how you protect your skin.
- Tweet about the giveaway: Click HERE to Tweet: “I'm wearing sunscreen & entering the #SheSpeaksHealth giveaway for Skin Cancer Awareness Month, thx to @SheSpeaksUp bit.ly/2w2sUJb"
*One lucky commenter or Tweeter will be chosen at random to receive two bottles of CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion, valued at approximately $26 total. Giveaway is open through May 20, 2018 to U.S. residents at least 18 years of age. Entrants must be a member of SheSpeaks. If you are not a member, click here to join. Winner will be notified by email.