No more Little Miss Sunshine. Sigh.
At the end of last year, I had a mole removed.
Wait, this gets better.
A week later the pathologists’ results came back and indicated that there were malignant cells in the mole. Long story short this meant surgically removing another chunk of skin on my stomach and waiting for more biopsy results while they checked whether it had spread or not.
Somewhere between getting the biggest crush ever on my surgeon, and asking the scrub nurse where she got her scrub cap because I (apparently) want one too*, the thought that this is probably not a good thing crossed my mind. You know, when your arm’s strapped to an operating table and they’re putting an oxygen mask over your face tanning suddenly doesn’t seem so great.
*Can anyone say “doped up”? Since when has that ever been a good look?! … If anyone can get me some more of those little pre-op pills I’d love you forever. For real.
So, now, even though I still lounge next to the pool (girl’s gotta get her vitamin D – even my dermatologist told me not to avoid the sun completely) I’m all about having a healthy, mature relationship with the sun. (I think the whole incident was the result of me throwing all responsible adult behaviour out the window and spending three months backpacking around Europe, much of it on the beaches of Spain, Croatia and Greece without so much as an SPF 2 in my backpack. Smart cookie, aren’t I?)
Anyway, obviously all this lead to lots of reading and researching skin cancer and I decided it was my personal duty to share some of the more interesting facts with fellow sun-worshipers and non-tanners alike:
– It’s a good idea to get a mole map done annually. It’s like a big blue print of all the moles on your body. Your dermatologist can then check the development of each mole individually each year.Dermatologists now also check for a new kind of mole that can develop underneath your feet. (?! Yep, I know. And apparently it’s quite dangerous.)
– If you suddenly spot a brand new mole, beware. And get it checked out asap.One person dies from a melanoma every hour. Skin cancer is also the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, and is diagnosed in men more often than women.
– I don’t know if it’s because skin cancer sounds like it’s contained, well, in your skin – or maybe it’s because so many people emphasise the risk of moles or have moles cut out – but the fact of the matter is that non-melanoma skin cancer can develop in any part of your skin, not just your moles. (And yes, this means people of all races can develop skin cancer.)
– Once the malignant cells develop they spread penetrate deeper into your skin. The risk is then that the cancer can spread into your blood or lymph system. So while it might sound like skin cancer can easily just be cut out and avoided, the fact is that once it reaches your internal systems, it’s a whole different ball game. You can also die from skin cancer – about 1 person does every hour.
– The one thing that I have picked up (through the Wellness Warior) is that coconut oil is supposed to be a completely natural sun-safe protectant. Can anyone verify this? I’ve been dying to try it, but I’m too scared of taking chances with my skin now!
I wish I could say I was all happy without a tan now, but I miss lounging on the beach, in the sun, for hours and hours without having to worry about sunscreen. Global warming and ozone holes suck.