Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Skin Cancer Story

Hey hey hey!

I debated doing a post on this topic.  I was going to post about it months ago then I decided not to, but the more I thought about I realized that I really should.  My reasoning being that I want to raise awareness.  Let me start my saying I had skin cancer, not the really scary kind, but skin cancer nonetheless.  

I never thought at the young age of 28 I'd get skin cancer.  I'm not even that big of a sun person.  I rarely just sit outside for the sole purpose of getting tan and to be honest I can't even remember the last time I did that.  That being said, I have spent hours in the sun running.  In 2013 I was training for a marathon and I spent miles on the road with the sun beaming down on me.  For years before that I was training for races all in the glorious sun.  I took vacations in high school and college and for sure had some sun burns.  Growing up I would play in the sun and I definitely got sun burns then too.  The thing I learned about skin cancer is that your skin remembers every burn.  It was the accumulation of all those times that I was in the sun too long without sunscreen that added up to skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma to be exact).  

I truly stumbled across finding out that it was cancer.  It starts with the fact that I had a pea size spot on my arm that looked like a scar that just never healed.  I cannot pinpoint exactly when it appeared.  I did go back and look at pictures from my wedding three years ago though and turns out it was on my arm then.  I cringe at the fact that I went tanning before my wedding now.  It's that veryyy little red dot on my left shoulder.  I never paid any attention to it.

At the end of June I went to the dermatologist for an appointment for Sage.  You may remember that he had bad eczema around 8 months old and I took him to the skin doctor.  One of my very good friends had noticed the spot on my shoulder and told me I should mention it to the doctor.  So, at the end of Sage's appointment, quite literally as we were getting up to leave, I asked him if he would just glance at the spot on my shoulder.  His response was, "Not to freak you out, but that looks like skin cancer."  Now I know he sees skin cancer everyday so he's sort of immune to it, but I was not.  I had my baby boy in my arms and I must have looked like I'd just seen a ghost because he clearly felt horrible and told me they would remove the spot that day and have it tested.

Sage was such a trooper with me that day at the doctor.  It was way beyond nap time at this point as we waited for the doctor to remove the spot on my arm.  The shot to numb the area was the most painful part.  I got a call within the week that it was skin cancer and they would need to remove more of the area.  That appointment was scheduled and last week I went to it.  This appointment was much more surgery like.  The area was numbed with another shot and a larger portion of the area was removed.  There are 10 stitches in my arm and it's presently healing.  I go back next week to get the stitches removed and to find out if they need to take more of the area.  Recovery hasn't been bad.  I just have to be a bit careful with my arm right now and make sure to keep it clean and change the bandages daily.

I'm getting another spot removed by my ear this month.  The doctor said it doesn't look cancerous, but he's taking precaution because of my history.  I'll have a little patch of hair shaved by my ear and the skin removed.  I'm going to have to get some cute headbands to cover that spot.  I'll continue going to the skin doctor yearly and most importantly I'll be wearing lots of sunscreen.

I'm telling you this becuase I know there are a lot of people out there like me who never would have expected it to happen to them.  I'm so grateful that Sage had eczema which led me to go to the skin doctor, but otherwise I'm not sure if I ever would have gone.  I'm very lucky that it's not the life threatening kind of skin cancer and that they caught it early on.  It definitely has changed my mindset on the sun and I know better now to take care of myself.


  1. Yikes, glad you caught it early! I spent a LOT of time in the sun when I was little, but have been lathering on SPF 80+ since around early high school. I had to have a couple of spots of skin removed, which included a spot along my hairline that has a "fun" hair-free circular scar. Obviously better than the alternative :) I get soooo angry when I see people going out without sun screen, especially if they're not putting it on their kids, either.

  2. OMG saw the amazingly cute IG video this morning with your bandage and mention of this post ... scary stuff!

    I had a lump on my back that I only noticed in my 20s when I lost all that weight, but wasn't a big deal until it seemed to be growing when I was ~30 or so and I got it looked at. My doctor removed it, and it was a fatty deposit and NBP. After that I had him look at an irregular mole - he removed that as well and it was also nothing. But it is a good reminder to always be watchful!

    Hoping that what you've had done takes care of things ... I'm sure I don't have to tell you to be careful :)

  3. Wow, thanks for sharing you story. Now that we moved to Florida I definitely do worry about my sun exposure, and now you've got me thinking about training for my marathon and how many hours I'll spend outside. I need to double up on the sunscreen. I hope the results come back ok and that they don't need to take anymore away. I'm glad you asked about the spot though and took initiative!

  4. I'm glad you shared this & I'm glad you're okay. I actually got checked by a dermatologist because Heather from Fit n Cookies shared on her skin cancer story! So your story can have an impact! I got two moles removed that had very visibly changed, but both were benign. I really really hate the scars I have from having them removed - they were a lot bigger than the moles themselves. But I am glad to know that I don't have cancer so I don't really care that much!

  5. I'm really glad it got caught in time. Skin cancer rates in New Zealand where I live are horrendous. We are constantly reminded of it. Whenever I visit the States I am astounded at the number of tanning salons. I don't sunbathe at all and am very careful using suntan lotion when outside.