Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PSA: Wear Your Sunscreen This Summer

I should give myself more credit for all the craziness that's been happening and how that has translated into me not being as productive as I'd like.

This post is about something totally random...but my blog is called "A Million Little Things" so I suppose that's warranted.

This month is skin cancer awareness month.

So let me tell you a short cautionary tale...that will, hopefully, make you want to wear your sunscreen at all times.

A while back I got a red bump on my forehead just above my eyebrow. Now I've always had problematic skin so I just figured it was another such spot, put moisturizer on it, picked at the flaky skin, whatever...kind of saw it just as annoying. And thought no more of it. It was just an irritating spot that wouldn't go away.

Keep in mind at the same time that I am not a person who gets a lot of sun in the summers. I learned long ago that I wouldn't tan well and so I don't really try. I'm aware that if I'm in the sun for too long I will get burned. So when I know I'm going to be in the sun I try to be vigilant about the sun block. I can thank my Swedish and Norweigan ancestors for that. They also gave me my blue eyes, what I consider to be my best feature...oh and the hand-me-down recipe for Swedish pancakes that I grew up I guess you win some, you lose some with the nordic ancestry.

Anyway I have a lot of freckles. I have a freckle in the middle of my lower lip. I have them all over my arms and some on my legs. I have them all over the place. Red heads have it worse but I've got my fair share. Well...not too long ago I noticed one very small freckle on my arm had turned dark brown...maybe black. I didn't want to ask my doctor about it because I was scared they'd want to...gulp...biopsy it. And no one wants a biopsy.

Well during one of my prenatal visits to the doctor I finally asked her about the freckle on my arm and she agreed it should be biopsied. It was not the most fun I've ever had--local anesthetic is akin to a bee sting. Then they gave me two stitches and I was on my way. That was back in March. My little biopsy made it all the way to UCLA for a second opinion where they decided it was "severely atypical" and that I should have a little more "excised" (aka cut out) to make sure they got all the suspicious cells.

So I went to the dermatologist. Nice man, good sense of humor, which is good since he gave me LOTS of those bee stinging shots (which I referred to as death) and gave me 2 layers of stitches. That tissue came back as all scar tissue so no more suspicious cells in my arm.

Well as I was at the dermatologist anyway I figured I ask him about the red bump above my eyebrow. He said it might be cancerous and they should cut/laser/burn it off just in case (not really sure what they did, I just let them shoot me up with another bee stinging shot and do their worst). They called today to tell me it is a basal cell carcinoma. So yes, cancerous. Not the kind that kills you, but the kind you definitely want to get rid of before it spreads around. It is not the same thing as melanoma--if it were I'd be freaking out. Totally freaking out. But apparently these type of lesions are pretty common, though rare in one so young. Probably the result of all the sunburns I've had in my little life. I go back for a checkup soon to make sure they got it all and will then continue to visit the dermatologist every 6 months long as they tell me to come, to make sure everything looks okay.

So there you go, my brief stint with suspicious spots, biopsies, and my first stitches in life. Everything is fine here, but it was a little scary.

So if you are wondering what you should look for--here is a great (though not that pretty...sorry I usually like to share pretty) slideshow showing the different types of spots to watch for.

Anyway, I'll be wearing my sunblock this summer. And my little baby will be in the shade and wearing hats all summer because she'll be too small for sunscreen. When she gets old enough for it (6 months) you better betchya she'll be slathered up regularly. Because sunburns as a child mean bee-stinging shots and biopsies when you're older. Or worse.

We're feeling really grateful that in our case it was just the shots & biopsies and nothing worse.

And when my daughter wonders why I'm such a maniac about making her wear sunblock I'll point to the scar on my forehead and on my arm and tell her about the nasty bee stinging shots and stitches..."trust me," I'll say, "sunscreen is far preferable". Lets hope she listens.

5 little remarks:

Helena said...

Anna! That is crazy! You didn't tell me about the forehead one. I'm glad you asked the doctor and that its all done. Can't wait for Saturday.

Savanna said...

Thanks for this Anna. I was sunscreen crazy on my mission with sunscreen sticks, sprays, and daily moisturizer, but since living in humid climates the moisturizer has gone. Miami kinda makes people want to get brown...

Rachel said...

wow. so glad you are okay! thanks for the information.

*Aliese* said...

This scares me. I spent WAY TOO MANY DAYS in the sun with minimal sunscreen (because I'm allergic to SPF) and have had absolutely horrid sunburns.

Dibble's said...

Anna, that is scary! I'm sorry you had to go through all of that...especially the needles, yuck! I hate needles and I've had to do the biopsy thing before and I know it's not pleasant! I'm glad that they got everything out and I hope it doesn't come back, hooray for sun screen!

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