I’m going to deviate a bit from today’s Blogger, May I? prompt of “This Time Last Year…” since there was something truly life-changing that happened to me two years ago this week.
Recently, a friend shared a story via Facebook about another girl who posted pictures of her skin cancer treatments online to promote “healthier” tanning habits in young women. I’m here to do the same thing. I actively blogged about this two years ago because it was traumatic. Two years ago, not only did I find out a flat, colorless, shiny spot on my face was skin cancer, but lost my two grandparents within three months of one another. A Basal Cell Carcinoma diagnosis happened in the middle of that. I endured another year of deep depression, only finding my way back to happiness a few months ago.
I was only 36-years-old then. Still, my dermatologist EVERY SINGLE VISIT tells me that I’m too young. It remains extremely difficult to hear that and know, for the most part, IT WAS PREVENTABLE. Every year around my birthday now I have to do a screening. Last week I had another biopsy, which thankfully was benign. But those old feelings still creep up. I still have the scars, both emotionally and physically. While my dermatologist compliments the surgeons for how well they stitched my face back up, I still have to look at it every day and be reminded of my ignorance.
I’d be remiss to not mention its impact financially. While my screening appointments are covered, insurance does not pay for biopsies — each year I have at least one and each costs me about $250. The MOHs surgery cost SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS. All of which had to be paid up-front, out-of-pocket. I was horribly and visibly bruised for several days, which meant not being able to go to work either (and meant unpaid personal days). And because I am admittedly vain about my face, I will also (soon) pay a couple hundred dollars to remove broken blood vessels that resulted from the surgery. Some people pay more for plastic surgery, so, yes, I know that I am “lucky” in that regard.
In any event, I will pontificate and remind you that getting an annual skin cancer screening — especially if you are fair skinned, sunburn easily or often, have a lot of moles or freckles — IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. That link, by the way, will take you to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website, which has a lot of helpful information about the different types of skin cancer, how to detect and/or the warning signs, and how or where to get screened.
And don’t forget the sunscreen.