Natural Born Redhead

I have been reading some of the stories here and decided to add my own. I am a 57 year old female born with red hair and fair skin. I live in Southern California. My younger years were spent in the sun, at the beach. I don’t really remember if we even used sunscreen at that time. I do remember coming home from the beach bright red! Within a day or two I would have blisters. I was around six years old and couldn’t even lay down because I was so burnt.

We moved to the high desert area in Southern CA and I continued to be out in the sun all day long. Skin cancer was never talked about like it is today. I should have been a “poster child” for sunscreen. I have scars from my sunburns.

Diagnosed with skin cancer

I had melanoma at age 41. Didn’t even know I had it. I went to the doctor for a sore on my upper back that wouldn’t heal. The sore ended up being a basal cell but, once they saw the other spot I was having a biopsy within days. The oncologist I saw was very good at explaining everything I went through. They took 7” out of my back along with a sentinel lymph node biopsy. I remember that being extremely painful. Since then I have had squamous cell carcinoma removed from my face, various basal cell carcinomas removed and numerous “spots” frozen.

A lot of people look at me and say “It’s just skin cancer” without realizing what I have been through. I have done the chemical peals numerous times. The pain and mental stress that comes with skin cancer is not recognized as a big deal. I think all of us survivors should speak up! Our voices need to be heard. I have thought of trying to be an advocate for sun safety but, don’t know where to start. People need to be aware of the dangers from the sun. It’s only going to get worse with global warming. More exposure to the sun means more people will end up with skin cancer. It’s a real problem!

Thank you for letting me share my story. Be safe everyone. Wear hats, coverup, and use sunscreen religiously!

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