I Refuse to Let Skin Cancer Keep Me Down
“I have new moles every week. Let’s light this candle.”
“Are moles really that dangerous?”
“Oh, yeah…they should just call them cancer dots.”
Moles cause concern
This exchange is from Season 8 of the sitcom Mom, and I could not agree more with the sentiment. Living with skin cancer, treatments, and daily precautions can no doubt take a toll on one’s psyche, but there is no reason to stop living life to the fullest. There exists an ideal amount of caution a person can demonstrate and still enjoy everything this life has to offer.
After almost 16 years of living with skin cancer, I have gone through some difficult stages and changed my outlook more than a few times. When I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2007, I battled some conflicting feelings and did so for a very long time. I wanted to continue living what I had always known. I wanted to be tan, freely work in the yard and vacation without fearing I was creating new cancer risks for myself, and I wanted to be happy. I went from doing whatever I wanted to fighting the urge to cover my entire body and adopting the vampire lifestyle.
Making changes: no more wasting time
Somewhere along the way, I got tired. I don’t think I could pinpoint a day and time, but I know it finally hit me that I was wasting precious time. Avoiding the sun and outdoor activities that I loved was affecting my mood. I felt a sense of loss, and I was no longer content. As the years passed, I found ways to beat the skin cancer blues and started moving on with my life with less of a sense of fear and dread.
Starting the sunscreen habit
I started treating sunscreen like it was a blessing and not a burden. I integrated it into my daily skincare routine so I never needed to think about it. It’s not as difficult to find concealers and makeup with sunscreen as you might think. The search is more than worth the effort when it leads to peace of mind and the freedom to enjoy each day.
As soon as displays of sunscreen began showing up in stores in March and April, I grabbed some to keep handy for working outside and for trips to the beach. Avoiding making special trips for it helped it feel like a more normal part of my life. Treating sun protection the same way I view day-to-day skincare took it from being a reminder of my limitations to a way to be free to live the way I wanted.
Living the way I want to
I won’t miss another event because I am afraid. Vacations will go on, and I will wear tank tops in summer. Hiding is not an option for me anymore, and living like Dracula is a thought I left behind long ago. It’s not even on my radar. There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from skin cancer and live your best life. I say light the candle and let it burn! Staying vigilant is completely possible and makes life worth living.
How has skin cancer changed your outlook? How has your diagnosis changed the way you live? Share with us in the comments.
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