alt=a man in a hat waving and walking away from an email.

Participation Not Requested, Thanks to No Skin Cancer!

I recently received an email informing me of an upcoming focus group related to skin cancer and asking if I would be interested in participating. I was a previous participant of a focus group for this particular company, and they had a new focus group forming relating to skin cancer treatment.

In order to see if I qualified for the study, I was asked to complete a preliminary questionnaire online. There were several demographic questions and then a series of questions relating to types of skin cancer I have currently, skin cancers I have had in the past, past treatments I have received for skin cancer, and current treatments I am receiving for skin cancer.

Not currently with active skin cancer

I submitted my responses and didn’t have to wait but a day or so before I got an email thanking me for completing the initial survey and letting me know that due to the fact I did not currently have skin cancer and was not receiving treatment for it, I would not qualify as a participant this time.

At first I was disappointed. I recall that I enjoyed participating in the previous group, and along with that participation came a bit of compensation.

I don't have skin cancer now!

But then I realized, this is a good thing! I cannot participate because I don’t have skin cancer!

I hope I am not jinxing myself, but it has now been over two and a half years since I have had to have a surgery for skin cancer removal (although I have had several precancerous areas treated with cryotherapy).

Have my lifestyle changes really worked?

That got me wondering, are the skin cancers slowing down because of changes I have made over the years? And what am I doing differently now that I wasn’t doing before?

  • First and foremost, I am way more sun smart than I used to be years ago. Many, many years ago, I would go to a tanning bed prior to going on vacation to try to get a “base tan.” I later learned (post-skin cancer diagnosis), I was just damaging my skin prior to further damaging my skin. It’s been decades since I have been in a tanning bed, and I can honestly say I do not miss that burnt skin smell in the least.
  • I no longer lay out for hours like I used to. I used to love lounging beside a pool or on a beach and could spend an entire day soaking up the sun. I now make sure my beach arsenal includes a beach umbrella, sunscreen, a hat, and a UPF coverup. I limit my time in the sun now and try to prevent over-exposure or getting a sunburn.
  • I take a Vitamin B supplement daily. I eat more fruits and veggies and whole grains than I did when I was younger, so my diet now, while it could still use improvement, is definitely better than it used to be.
  • I see my dermatologist every six months for a full skin check, and I see her more often if I find something suspicious on my skin. This helps catch any issues early.

I'll keep doing these

I am going to continue these practices, because I will take any reprieve I can get from getting new skin cancers. I realize it is more than likely that it is just a matter of time before I get another skin cancer, given my 27+ year history with skin cancer, but I am going to relish these stretches of time when I don’t have a skin cancer that requires surgery to remove it. Even if that means I don’t get to participate in a focus group.

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