A little more than a year ago, one of LB's friends was diagnosed with skin cancer. It was the really bad kind, it had spread a little, he had to have surgery, etc. (He's fine now, as far as I know...)
Anyway, after this happened, I made appointments for Jonathan and I to have our moles checked. I 100% did this so Jonathan would go to the doctor. He has a ton of moles (some that look sort of weird) and I knew he wouldn't go unless I did too. So we went. I have really pale skin and light eyes - but my skin also tans really easily and I don't have many moles, so I wasn't too concerned about myself.
We both left that day with clean bills of skin health.
Then about 6 months later, this past summer, when I was pregnant with Bates I noticed a raised, flesh-colored bump on my forehead. I thought it was a pimple for awhile, but when it didn't go away, I asked my OBGYN about it. She said, "lots of weird things can happen to your skin in pregnancy, so it's probably fine, but keep an eye on it after the baby is born."
He was born in February and I noticed the bump didn't budge, so I made an appointment with the dermatologist. I expected her to say all was fine (and expected to be a little annoyed to pay the $55 co-pay). When she looked at it, she was pretty sure it wasn't anything to be worried about. She thought it was maybe some kind of hair follicle thing. BUT, she figured she might as well test it, just to be sure.
Well - good thing she did! It was cancer! Like, actual cancer - not a pre-cancerous growth. It was a Basal Cell Carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer and is fortunately non-melanoma and doesn't usually spread. All things considered, it was the best type to have. But still.
So I went back to the doctor yesterday to have it removed. She used MOHS surgery, which is when they slice out the smallest amount possible and then test it in the lab to see if they got it all. They keep slicing it out and testing it, little by little, until it's gone.
Fortunately, she got it all the first time. But she still had to cut a HUGE chunk out of my forehead! I haven't undressed it yet from yesterday - but when she showed it to me, it was big! So I guess I'll have a nice battle wound on my forehead to remind myself to stay out of the sun!
So here's my public service announcement: even if your skin tans easily, don't think skin cancer isn't something you need to worry about. Also, go to the doctor if something seems weird! I almost didn't go!
And with that - I think my days of soaking up rays are done. It's SPF 50 from now on.