Skin Cancer Made Me Into One Sequel, That is Better Than the Original

Warning: possible unpopular opinions ahead. That may be a little dramatic, but it’s true. I have never been a fan of sequels because they are never better than the original. Take Hocus Po… well, you get the idea. Of all the movies I have ever watched, sequels come in at the bottom of the list. There are sequels that feel like they try too hard and others not enough. I mean, I don’t even go into the experience with high expectations anymore. There is no need. Books sometimes bring the same level of disappointment. New versions of old things are never better with one exception: me.

Skin cancer made me more observant

I don’t know that I was what you would consider oblivious before my melanoma diagnosis, but I was clearly not as observant as I should have been when it came to my skin. Since the day my best friend pointed out a mole she thought looked suspicious on my upper left arm, I began faithfully checking my skin for changes in moles, dry flakes of skin that don’t seem to heal, and any new spots, rashes, or lesions. Things that never occurred to me prior to my diagnosis and excision, moved to the top of my list of priorities. I note any changes and discuss them with my dermatologist–a doctor I now see on a regular basis.

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Post-melanoma me is sun-safe

The original version of me was sun-stupid. There is no other way to say it. Before my first skin cancer experience, there have been many since, I was a tanner and sunscreen was never part of my skincare routine. I am so much better about sun safety now. Evenings are my preferred time to work outdoors. I wear sunscreen 365 days a year, and I have not used a tanning bed since my melanoma diagnosis. There are things the old me did on a regular basis the new me wouldn’t dream of doing, and that’s what makes me better.

My advocacy game is strong

If I am completely truthful, I did much more harm than good before my first skin cancer excision. Not only did I use tanning salons, but I encouraged others to do the same. My entire attitude about having tanned skin was one rooted in vanity and the misconception that tanned skin was more attractive and looked healthier. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was a participant and leader in many a conversation about how pale skin was undesirable and looked, well, gross. Quite honestly, thinking about the fact that I said those things now makes me blush.

The new, better me veers in the opposite direction. I encourage others to use sunscreen. Telling friends and family that pale skin is healthy skin is something I do regularly. I have shared my own experiences in the form of articles, stories, and videos. One of the most difficult things I have done is to share videos of my topical chemotherapy treatments. If seeing my treated skin inflamed, peeling, and raw helps others find their way to a better self, so be it.

Everything doesn’t get better with time, and some things can never be improved upon. I could start a list and go on for hours. Skin cancer is one of those game-changers. Once you have been diagnosed with it, you can begin making changes to reduce your chances of developing more lesions. When I learned that my tanning habits damaged my skin and significantly increased the chances of developing skin cancer, I was devastated–devastated enough to change my ways and make my self into a top-notch sequel to the original, not-so smart me.

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.

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