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Changes in Attitudes (and Thinking)

Changes in Attitudes (and Thinking)

Having skin cancer can change more than a few things in your life. When I was first diagnosed with skin cancer, I didn’t know much about it and I naively thought it would be a ‘one and done’ deal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. When I was diagnosed a second time, it opened my eyes that this was something that is serious business, and I would need to change my ways.

New sun habits and new ways of thinking

Being somewhat lax about faithfully applying sunscreen before my diagnosis, that was definitely one thing that needed to change. ‘Laying out’ for hours on end was also something that would need to change. Being sun smart and practicing good sun habits would now be a necessity. I also needed, though, to change my way of thinking.

I have to remind myself that I don’t need a perfect summer tan for my outfits to look cute. Having a tan doesn’t make me look healthier or better. I don’t need to get a base tan before I go on vacation.

Because of having skin cancer, there are things that I now need to put more thought into. If I’m going on vacation, will I be in the sun a lot? What can I do to prevent sunburn? What do I need to pack to protect my skin? How can I best prevent over-exposure to the sun on a daily basis? You get the point – there’s a lot of thinking that goes along with skin cancer!

Considering tattoo placement and skin cancer risk

Recently, I was planning something that prior to having skin cancer, I wouldn’t have given nearly as much thought. I had been thinking for awhile about getting a tattoo. The question was though, with having skin cancer, where would the best place on my body be to get one? I didn’t want it somewhere where skin cancers typically appear on me (shoulders, arms, chest, legs), because I didn’t want to risk having a suspicious area that I couldn’t see due to the tattoo.

I did what seemed logical – I googled to find out where the most common areas are for skin cancers to appear. Not surprisingly, they are the arms, legs, face, and chest, but other common areas are the hands, scalp, lips, ears, and neck.  Basically, sun-exposed areas are the most common for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma to appear (the two types of skin cancer I have had).

There is one area on me, though, where I’ve never had skin cancer and isn’t usually exposed to the sun, and that is my forearm. So, that would be the location of my tattoo.  Once that decision was made, I decided on a non-intricate design, and I didn’t want colors added – both factors for making sure I didn’t have a future skin cancer hiding within my tattoo.

I got my tattoo, I’m very happy with it, I can check it frequently (like I do the rest of my skin) to see if anything looks out of the ordinary, and it’s a reminder to me every day that even though I’ve had skin cancer for over 23 years, I’m still here. I’m still fighting, and I’m still surviving.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.