Last August, I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my forehead. My doctor used what looked like a melon baller to cut the bad cells out of my head and sewed me up with twenty-five stitches. Now, I’m a skin check convert. I’ve been to the dermatologist three times since to check out suspicious spots and I’ll continue to do so. See, I spent way too many years in the sun. Growing up on Long Island, much of my life revolved around the beach and sometimes I was even a baby oil and tinfoil kind of teenager. I didn’t heed my dad’s warnings even knowing his mom, the grandmother I would never meet, died of melanoma when she was way too young. I found it hard to grasp as a teenager. The sun gave me a golden (albeit pinkish) glow and cancer seemed the furthest thing from my mind. We didn’t have the internet and instant access to information and pictures that would have done a good job scaring me. But now, as a wise forty-three-year-old, I’ve learned the best glow is good health. I’m neurotic with my fair and freckle faced children. Hats are now my favorite accessory and all of my makeup has extra SPF in it.
So here’s my advice…stay out of the sun. We just lost a pillar of our community to melanoma. She was Gigs’ first grade teacher and an amazing woman whose passion for education stuck with her until the very end. In honor of our beloved teacher, go get yourself checked out even if you don’t think you have anything suspicious.