Thankful for Skin Cancer?

Thankful for Skin Cancer?

Although being thankful can (and should) be practiced year around, Thanksgiving is an especially good time for people to count their blessings. One thing I am thankful for is my skin cancer diagnosis. Before you think I’ve completely lost my mind, let me tell you why.

Former sun worshipper

In my younger days, when I was a child, a teenager, a young adult, and even into my late 20’s and early 30’s, I loved the sun. I loved the warmth of the sun on my skin. I loved how relaxing it felt to be in the sun. I have fair skin, freckles, lighter colored hair, and blue eyes. I was born with red hair. I will never be able to get a deep, dark tan, but I still loved being in the sun and I spent far more time in the sun than I should have.

Not taking skin cancer seriously

In 1995, I had my first skin cancer diagnosis, which resulted in my first skin cancer surgery. It was a relatively minor surgery, all things considered. Even though it was on my face, I had an excellent plastic surgeon perform the surgery, and I healed well. That was a blessing and a curse, because since the removal, surgery and healing went so smoothly, I didn’t take my diagnosis as seriously as I should have. I assumed that skin cancer was a ‘one and done’ deal, and I continued with my sun-loving ways.

Skin cancer recurrence

It wasn’t until my second skin cancer area appeared that I started taking skin cancer seriously. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would have skin cancer for the rest of my life. I started being more aware of good sun habits, and my days of lounging on a beach for hours on end, without sunscreen (or with minimal sunscreen) were over.

What if?

This makes me have to wonder, what would have happened had I continued with my sun-loving ways? I’m pretty sure that one result would be that my skin would look more aged, but an even more serious consequence could have been that I might have had far more skin cancer areas by now than I have had. I’ve been ‘lucky’ enough that all but one of my cancerous areas have been basal cell, but what if I spent the last 20+ years with the same sun habits that I used to have? Would I now have melanoma? Would my skin cancer areas appear much more frequently?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that my skin cancer diagnosis forced me to take better care of my skin. Granted, it took me awhile to realize that, and I am still a work in progress, but I am so much better now about sun awareness than I was years ago. And for that, I am very thankful.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net 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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