Tuesday, June 05, 2012


About a month ago I showed my dermatologist a really small red spot on my cheek. I was actually there for something else, but had noticed this little pimple-like place and thought that I'd ask about it. As soon as she saw it she said that she wanted to biopsy the spot.

I didn't think too much about it until I received "the call" from her office several days later.

"The biopsy showed that you have a squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) and we want to refer you to a surgeon who does the Mohs procedure to take care of it."


Now, let's back up about 56 years.....As a young girl growing up in South Florida, spending time in the sun was just an everyday part of my life.  The weather was always pretty and warm so a good deal of time was spent outdoors in the tropical sunshine. (As a child, I would put some of that gooey Zinc ointment on my nose when it got too red...but, that was about the extent of my sunscreen use!)

Once I hit my teen years, having a tan was one of the most accepted (and encouraged) parts of my existence.

Iodine, baby oil and silver reflector panels all were a part of my sun tanning regimen. We would all get tan....but, for fair-skinned me, it was a process of getting red, sometimes blistering, and eventually getting tan.  I had more painful sunburns than I care to remember.

When you live in S. Florida, going to the beach is just a normal part of life.  It was our hangout from the time that I could drive a car there until I left for college.  And, at college (U. of Florida) we continued our suntanning as looking tan meant looking good, healthy, and radiant...making you more prone to get asked out on weekend dates! : )

Fast forward to today...I had the Mohs treatment done two weeks ago on the small spot on my cheek.  Tomorrow I get to stop doing the "vinegar wash" and the bandaging with Polysporin.

After the nurse numbed my cheek, the rest was a piece of cake.  The surgeon scraped at the area and then removed a sliver of skin to freeze and send to the office lab.  Forty five minutes later the dr. came back in the let me know that they would not need to cut away any more skin in that he had gotten all of the cancer the first time.  If they had found traces of cancer cells, I would have had to have more cutting done until the specimen came out clean.  I was one of the lucky ones....I caught it early....before the cancer had a chance to get deeper into my skin.

So, now I will have a standing appointment with my dermatologist every three to six months.  Once you have a carcinoma, you are more prone to get others. 

Sunscreen is now a part of my daily regimen. Even if I am going to be outside for just a few minutes, I make sure that I am covered in spf 30 or above sunscreen.  While many of my sunspots and dots are from many year's ago, I don't want to add to the past damage from today.  This is something that I can easily do, and I will, religiously.
So, why am I posting all of this??....I am hopeful that I might get someone's attention out there.  Someone who still thinks that it is cool to look tan.

Trust me, it isn't.


Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs said...

Oh, I'm so glad it was caught. Scary stuff. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have had similar scares. I then in turn use THEIR scares to scare my daughters about the obsession with being tan.

Thank you for sharing! It's important to get it out there.

Granny Annie said...

And yet as we attempt to avoid the sun we increase our lack of Vitamin D which is vital to our health as well.

Grandma Kc said...

So glad everything turned out OK. Living in southern California I worry about the same thing for all the same reasons. My skin took a lot of abuse while I was growing up. I don't use sunscreen to just go out and about but I do use it when going to the beach or spending extended time outdoors and I always goop my granddaughter up. Great reminder! Thank you!

Susan Adcox said...

I had a squamous cell carcinoma years ago, and haven't had a recurrence, maybe because like you I got a lot more religious about avoiding the sun and using sun screen.

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