That was 1998 and the voice was my doctor at that time. What I had feared most, was a reality...I had skin cancer. Actually, I didn't just have skin cancer, I had melanoma...the most deadly form of skin cancer.
I can't even begin to tell you how my life changed that day. I went from a very confident happy woman that loved being outside, to a terrified shell of a person that feared even having the sun shine on her skin while riding in the car.
I look back now and actually feel bad for my family and even for myself. I loved life so much and the very thought of losing it consumed me...and I was one of the lucky ones. Further biopsy showed my melanoma in it's very earliest stage. I did not require any additional treatment.
My skin cancer was most likely caused from the many, many, many sunburns I received as a child and even as an adult. I am very light complected. I use to burn, blister and peel over and over and over again...never knowing that what I thought was funny at the time....could actually be shortening my life.
My diagnosis turned me into a bit of a hermit. I didn't venture outside if I wasn't covered from head to toe in sunscreen, sunscreen clothing, hats, shoes and socks. In the past few years, I have slowly come to understand that the sun can still be my friend, but I have to respect the sun. I know that it can make me smile and warm my heart and soul, but it can also do great harm.
These days, you will find me outside on sunny days. I love walking out onto the deck and turning my face to the sun to feel the warmth. I will stretch out my arms and let them take in the the suns rays....but only for a few minutes.
I have a large scar on my upper left arm. My doctor told me I could have surgery to improve it's appearance, but I said no thank you. That scar is there to remind me to respect the sun.
My melanoma looked NOTHING like what you see pictures of. It was small and perfectly round and "normal" looking. Last fall I found a tiny little spot that looked like a dry, bumpy rash. I had it removed and it was a basal cell carcinoma...another form of skin cancer. I thought it was dry skin!
I recommend everyone wear sunscreen and a hat when out in the sun, and see a dermatologist for a skin check once a year.
If you would like more information on skin cancer, please click here. If you would like information on a great sunscreen clothing company, click here.