You’re Not Immune to Skin Cancer.

I look thinner with a tan.

I look healthier with a tan. 

I feel ugly and pasty. 

I’m sure most of us have said something along these lines at some point, am I right? I’m also confident that some of us have been more proactive than others in regards to chasing the paleness away.

I tan very easily, but for the past four years or so, I’ve pretty much avoided the sun and become a sunscreen Nazi.

In college, I had a pre-cancerous mole removed on the back of my arm. A mole removal that required two “digs.” (Trust me, it looks much uglier in person.)

Last week, I had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist, as we’ve been tracking a mole on my back. Surprisingly, the mole on my back had not changed, but two other random freckles had.

A freckle on the side of my right hand:

A freckle on my right shin (and, yes, it’s impossible to shave over stitches):

I know these look harmless, but let me tell you, they hurt like a motherfucker.

I understand that it’s easy to think, So what, Colleen? Get your freckles removed and move on. 

The so what is that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon (source).

Not enough for you? Think of the five people you adore.

Got ’em?

At least one of them will develop skin cancer. 

I know one. And if I wasn’t diligent about seeing my dermatologist regularly, I could be one of them, too. We’re normal, careful girls. We also have ugly scars all over our bodies.

I’m not here to be a Debby Downer, but I am here to slap you around with some truth. You are not immune to skin cancer. You are NOT SMART if you spend time in a tanning bed or lay out in the sun sans sunscreen. Tanning is not worth it. Please, next time you just need that “glow” first consider having stitches in your arms, back, hands, legs, and face.

I assume this post will get more eye-rolls and dismissive waves than anything else, but if this motivates one person to call their dermatologist to schedule a full-body scan, I’ll feel good.

Be safe, be smart!