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Survivors Speak: Yvonna on SCC & BCC Recurrence

Skin cancer is not one and done – treatments and checks go on indefinitely, as Yvonna’s journey demonstrates. This endless cycle of diagnosis, treatment, and anxiety can take a real toll on your physical and mental health. However, the better prepared we are for the real impact of skin cancer, the better we can cope with it. Many community members find that working on prevention and advocating for others can give their experience purpose.

We spoke with community member Yvonna about her journey with skin cancer, the toll of scars and recurrence, and the importance of talking about what you’ve been through:

The journey

My journey with skin cancer began over 30 years ago. I was in my twenties when I got my first one on my shoulder. It was a BCC. Since then it has been horrible. I believe I’ve had 12 removed from my face. BCC and SCC. Mohs surgery, on my lip twice. Skin graft on nose. Cancer left my lip disfigured. I’ve had about 30 or more on the rest of my body. Even had one on my foot. They don’t go away. If removed, one will come up next to scar. Skin cancer is cancer. It doesn’t go away and most of the time you are not in remission. If you have had as many as I have you wish there was a way you could be free of the cancer for more than even a year before another shows up. My body is one big scar!

The long term impact

My life has changed so much. I’m very self conscious of my body. I can’t wear the cut-off-the-shoulder shirts. My back is full of scars so I keep it covered. My arms as well. The one on my lip removed last year 2018 has been the worst to me. It’s very noticeable but my cancer is gone (for now). The ones I get on my face are scary because there is not much tissue for surgery. Especially nose and lip. I’m more scared now than I use to me. I’m thankful no melanoma.

It’s not spoken about enough

Skin cancer is cancer. It doesn’t go away! Not for me anyway. There should be more laws against tanning beds. Check your skin and if something doesn’t look right see your doctor. A tiny one will be a big scar. Even if you tan you can get skin cancer. Wear sunscreen. I once worshipped the sun. I didn’t know back then just how harmful the sun is. Spread the word. It’s not spoken enough about skin cancer and what you will look like after it’s removed.