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It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village

A Facebook post I made around two and a half years ago about one of my skin cancer surgeries and recovery is making the rounds again. In that post, I documented my recovery process with photos taken right before surgery and through four weeks after surgery. The initial post somehow ended up going viral (as in being shared around the world viral).

Sharing skin cancer photos impacted others decisions

The photos weren’t, and still aren’t, easy to look at, but I have had many messages from people telling me that the photos and reading about my surgery and recovery helped them to decide that they were giving up going to tanning beds. Others wrote me to let me know that the post encouraged them to schedule an appointment with their dermatologist for a long-overdue skin check.

Believe me when I say that I am so very thankful that people continue to share the post, because it truly is my hope that it comes across the newsfeed of everyone who needs to see it. Here’s a link to the post, if you’d like to read it.

Remembering the fear of what surgery would do to my face

But believe me also when I say that it honestly makes me cringe when I see the photos of me post-surgery. If I look too long at them, it makes me remember the night before surgery, when I looked in the mirror and knew that could be the last night I looked like me. I had several areas of skin cancer on my face that were getting removed, but I didn’t know the extent of it – how deep they were, how large they were under my skin. I didn’t know if after surgery, after the bandages were removed, after the swelling went down, I would find out that I no longer looked like me.

Memories of post surgery and recovery

Those pictures remind me of when my mom and sister brought me home after surgery, and my youngest daughter was waiting at home for me. I saw the look of shock on her face when she saw me – her mom, the one who takes care of her, looking so completely injured.

The pictures remind me of the two weeks I spent after surgery flat on my back. My doctor told me I needed to avoid as much as possible putting any weight on my legs, or I might rip out my stitches. And if I ripped out my stitches, I’d most likely have to get a skin graft and spend a long time in the hospital.

Power of sharing skin cancer pictures

But seeing those pictures also reminds me of why they need to continue to be shared. If they change even one person’s mind about going to the tanning bed or lying out for hours upon hours, it’s worth it.

Skin cancer isn’t easy, skin cancer isn’t pretty, and skin cancer isn’t fun. Skin cancer surgery and recovery can be painful (not to mention expensive). So thank you, all of you, who continue to share your stories. Thank you for caring enough about others to try to help them avoid having to go through what those of us battling skin cancer have been through.  One story at a time, one person at a time, we will continue to raise awareness.

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.