Don’t Make My Mistake

February 6, 2012 · 221 comments

Welp, I got some less-than-awesome news this week.

I have skin cancer.

How tired are you of hearing the “c-word” here? Let me tell you, I’m extremely tired of speaking it, writing it, and thinking about it. But, just as I tried to increase awareness by writing about my sister’s breast cancer battle almost a year ago, I’m going to do the same here.

People have preached to you about skin cancer. I know you have. I get it; I have been, too.

I’m sure you rolled your eyes. It may have made you feel kinda guilty for laying in the tanning bed. But not guilty enough to stop.

You’re probably not going to watch the entire length this video even though I urge, beg, and plead you to.

Because, like I did, you think you have some superpower that makes you invincible.

You’re not. Trust me. No matter how “smart” you think you are about the sun.

I have friends who go to the beach and don’t put sunscreen on because they “don’t burn.” Or they “burn and then it turns to tan.” Or “It’s cloudy. Or they “don’t feel like getting greasy.”

When you get a call from your dermatologist after a routine checkup saying you have melanoma, you’re going to feel really stupid about not wanting to be greasy.

You’re going to feel foolish for every single time you lay in a tanning bed to get rid of “strap marks” for your friend’s wedding. And for every time you got a sunburn on the field hockey field as a kid.

The truth is, there is no “smart” way to tan. I was “smart.” And I have skin cancer.

I was never one of those people who would just take my chances on the beach; I always wear sunscreen. If I went tanning, I would go about once a week to get ready for an event and tell my friends who tanned several days in a row to cool it. Obviously, it doesn’t matter how often you go, because I only tanned sporadically. Just don’t lay in the tanning bed at all.

 I went to the dermatologist simply because I hadn’t been in a while. I didn’t have any questionable looking moles or freckles. I’m not so fair that I worry about skin cancer; on the contrary, I tan pretty easily.

When I arrived for my routine screening, the dermatologist scraped off an area on my back, on my arm, and on my chest. I wish I had thought to take photos of these spots, because they definitely didn’t look risky.

None of my “spots” had any of the warning signs.

See that tiny spot? It’s an itty bitty freckle. I don’t have that spot anymore.

As you’re reading this, I’m having surgery to remove a chunk off my back. While I get this done, I want you to:

  • Find a dermatologist near you and schedule an appointment. We are supposed to have a routine screening once yearly.
  • Share the video I posted here. Spread the word about the dancers of skin cancer.
  • Get your friends out of the tanning beds. Tell them you have a friend who has skin cancer, and she says it’s just not worth it.

Embrace your pastiness. It’s Winter — we’re supposed to be pale right now!

Don’t go tanning. Use sunscreen. If you need some tan skin in your life, stick to spray tans (they are cheap nowadays… seriously). Grab some Jergens (cheap at Target) or Clinique.

Take the Pasty Pledge with me.

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{ 194 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine February 6, 2012 at 3:17 am

Oh my gosh. Girl, I am so sorry to hear this- I know there’s nothing anyone can say to make this better or go away, but NO ONE deserves this, least of all you. I’m so glad you caught it early and are having it taken care of! I also tanned in high school, and this is a major wakeup call to me. I’ve never been to a dermatologist and tan easily, but I guess that’s not really an excuse, is it?

BIG HUGS to you love! I’m thinking of you and hope you have a quick and easy recovery!!
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2 Pamela February 6, 2012 at 3:18 am

I’m sorry to hear your news, Alyssa. I was diagnosed with melanoma when I was 20 years old, and I still kick myself for those few times I went to the tanning salon and didn’t wear sunscreen. I am a big advocate of skin health now, and you did a wonderful job of sharing your story and advice. I love your positive attitude, and I 100% take the Pasty Pledge with you! I stick to Jergens Self Tanner now, and I embrace being pale! :)
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3 Leslie February 6, 2012 at 3:22 am

Oh man, so so so sorry to hear this and my prayers are going out to you girl. I’m happy you’re having it taken care of ASAP and I definitely commend you for SAYING IT OUT LOUD and proud that fake tanning in a bed is not smart, not even once. I tan easily, I’m the girl that used to put on oil IN COZYMEL because I didn’t burn, seriously. Now I wonder if I’ll regret it but your post is a great reminder not to be stupid just because you are caring so much about physical appearances. Pasty all the way girl, lots of prayers being sent your way.

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4 Chelsea February 6, 2012 at 3:31 am

Awh this brought me to tears. I have a tanning membership that I can’t drop until April or else it’ll cost me like $100….I promise to be safer in honor of you though <3

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5 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Chelsea, the point in my post is there IS no “safer” in the tanning bed. if I never went tanning, I wouldn’t have melanoma! get outta there, girlfriend. it’s totally not worth it.

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6 Chelsea February 7, 2012 at 2:41 am

Oh no no no I didn’t mean at all in any way that I was going to continue tanning! I’m done with that because of your post, I promise <3 I just meant safer as in no tanning and more sunscreen for sure! Hope surgery went well <3

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7 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:17 am

OH, PHEW! I was thinking.. well, shoot. did I give everyone the wrong idea? :) no more tanning, woohoo!

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8 Hollie@lolzthatswim February 6, 2012 at 3:36 am

Wow Alyssa-I’m really sorry to hear that and I know you will get rid of it and be healthy again. I’m really really glad they caught it early and chin up-you’ll be back to normal in no time. :)
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9 Kristen February 6, 2012 at 3:47 am

Thanks for sharing your story to help protect others. Sending you positive & healing thoughts!

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10 Clare @ Fitting It All In February 6, 2012 at 3:53 am

love you and praying for you girl. great reminders here.
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11 Jena February 6, 2012 at 3:56 am

Oh gosh! That is scary! I’ve been harassing my Husband to go to the dermatologist for a while now; when i finally convinced him to go he ended up being out of town for 9 weeks and couldn’t get an appt when he WAS home.. Now that he’s home i’ll be harassing him once again that he needs to get checked – I need to get checked to, but he has a spot on his nose that makes me a little nervous.

Glad they were able to catch it, and get you treated before it got worse!
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12 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm

yes, yes, yes. please get him in there!

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13 Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry February 6, 2012 at 3:56 am

Oh my gosh, I cannot believe this. Huge good luck to you with your surgery. I just watched that video last week actually, and I actually DID watch the entire thing, for some reason.
This was a great post though, and has totally inspired me to go see a dermatologist. I never use tanning beds, but I have been known to be a sun goddess and seriously slack on the sunscreen. I tan so so easily, and very rarely burn, so I’m lazy about sunscreen when I’m in the sun. This was a huge wake up call to me.
Good luck with the surgery! I hope all goes well!
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14 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile February 6, 2012 at 3:58 am

Literally got chills and tears from this. I’m so sorry to hear this. I can relate because my dad has melanoma. I was obsessed with tanning back in the day and I definitely didn’t listen even when I knew my dad had skin cancer. So dumb. I will be praying for you! <3

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15 theAlmostRunner February 6, 2012 at 4:21 am

Girl I’m making an appointment tomorrow. This is crazy… I hate that you didn’t even see any weird spots. I hope your surgery went well and you’ll heal quickly.
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16 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

thanks lady. get that appt!

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17 Mindy - Clueless Nut February 6, 2012 at 4:21 am

My thoughts are with you during this time. I know it had to be such horrible news to receive, but I know you are going to kick butt and beat it! You’ve definitely opened my eyes to a cause that people, especially young women (and including me), take for granted only to look better. I think it’s awesome you are using your story to help other girls prevent what you are experiencing.
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18 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

thanks, mindy. help me spread the word! :)

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19 Kaitlyn @Keeping Up with Kaitlyn February 6, 2012 at 4:29 am

Oh wow I am so sorry:( I am glad you went to the Doctor. I have definitely frequented the Tanning Bed and love how I look when I am tan. I definitely think I need to make an appointment, just to make sure.

I am sorry you are going through this, but I am sure you have inspired many already to go to the doctor or stop tanning and use sunscreen! Good luck with your surgery. I’ll be thinking of you.
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20 Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) February 6, 2012 at 4:36 am

Wishing you the best! Thank you so much for sharing and being so honest. I’m 31 and have only been checked once, a few years ago, by a dermatologist for skin cancer. You have certainly reminded me that I need to make another appointment. I’m way past due!

Good luck! <3
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21 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm

go do it. make your appt asap! :)

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22 Laura February 6, 2012 at 5:12 am

I’m so sorry about this news, but so thankful that you decided to share it. I haven’t been too a tanning bed in years because I decided the risk just isn’t worth it, but recently, I have been considering starting to go again. The reason? Peer pressure. I go to a school in California that is filled with extremely attractive, tan girls, and with my naturally fair skin, I felt not-so-pretty by comparison. But you know what? I’m going to look at is as I STICK OUT in a sea of fake girls who burn their skin and all look the same. I’ll get my spray tans when I need them, but for the most part, I’m going to WORK MY PALENESS! I am seriously so thankful you posted this. It is not worth the risk, and I vow to embrace the paste (kinda rhymed?) with ya! Beat that cancer girl!!!!

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23 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

work. that. paleness. ill be right along beside you. :)

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24 Jessica February 6, 2012 at 5:12 am

Love the message. In september of last year, my sister was diagnosed with Melanoma, stage 3, she just finished intensive interferon and now giving herself the injections herself. You don’t realize the seriousness until it affects you. Embrace the pastyness, in the scheme of things, being tan doesn’t matter!
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25 Amanda February 6, 2012 at 5:13 am

Oh darling, I am so sorry to hear your news. This is such a timely reminder, I always get a bit lazy on the sunscreen, even when I know I was far too exposed to the sun as a child. Sending so much love and so many prayers your way. You’ll make a speedy recovery, I’m sure. And I’ll book an appt with the dermatologist tomorrow xoxo

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26 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

thank you! so glad to see you’re booking an appt.

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27 Cait the Arty Runnerchick February 6, 2012 at 5:24 am

i’m so very sorry to hear your bad news! take care of yourself and i’ll be sending you plenty of positive vibes. the good news is that u caught it and now have a plan moving forward. it’s also incredibly brave to turn your bad news into an important message to others. wishing you a speedy recovery! :)
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28 Casey @ OatsAndNanners February 6, 2012 at 5:25 am

Alyssa, thanks for sharing this with us. Skin cancer is such an important topic, but it is overlooked or shrugged off – I’ve gotten tissue removed because they thought it would be cancerous – and this was at age 19!! Crazy! Keep it up and i know everything will be fine!

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29 Christie February 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

Sorry to hear about that. Way to be proactive and be an advocate!
Have a derm appointment Saturday!
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30 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

so glad to hear it!

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31 Jenn's Adventures February 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

I am so blown away by this post — the “c-word” has been a frequent word in my life as of late and the last thing anyone wants to read or hear is that someone they care about has it. Your post is definitely a wake-up call, hopefully to everyone who reads it. For me it is, and all I can think about is how careless/reckless I was growing up — in Hawai’i of all places — and how important it was (when living in Alabama) the gym had tanning beds. Ugh. There were no doubt more than once I got toasted and my Brother even suffered a 2nd degree (?) burn one year. I currently don’t have insurance, but I’m always checking my body for irregularities. My prayers go out to you and I’m looking forward to learning about your successful recovery:)

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32 Leandra February 6, 2012 at 7:37 am

Oh I am so sorry to hear this – sending lots of positivity your way! Thank you for posting this and sending out a wake up call to readers… am now definitely considering my very first dermatologist visit.
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33 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

please go. make that appointment!

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34 Christie February 6, 2012 at 7:41 am

Wow – I too am blown away by this post and very sorry this has happened to you. Thank you for sharing your story, I imagine it was a hard post to write but I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from it. I actually saw that video a few weeks ago and its definitely stuck with me – as will your post. I’m kicking myself for all those times where I didn’t use sunscreen just because I wanted to get a tan! It’s just not worth it.

Best of luck with the surgery and I’m sure you will make a full recovery! Sending lots of well wishes your way :)
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35 Marijke February 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

Alyssa, so sorry to hear about your diagnosis.
It’s great that you’re using this as an opportunity to spread awareness.
Stay positive girl- praying for your speedy recovery from surgery.
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36 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries February 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

I’ve been thinkin’ and prayin’ for ya, girlfriend. You come from a family who seems to have no problem kicking the C Word in the pants, and I have the feeling you’ll do the same thing. Love you!
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37 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I love YOU. lots and lots.

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38 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Alyssa! I’m so sorry to hear about this – I’ve definitely been in the “stupid” category when it comes to not wearing sunscreen and I’ve smartened up in the last few years, although that doesn’t undo the damage I’ve already done. Prayers for you that they get everything and you have a speedy recovery! <3 you!
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39 katie February 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Im thinking of you today girl, I hope all goes well.

What a great post, tanning beds are SO bad, I wish more young girls knew this. I tell my sisters this all the time! I was shamed to say I tanned a few times for my wedding and I shouldn’t of.

Love you!
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40 Angie Mae February 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for sharing your story! It makes me so sad to hear that you’re having to fight this but your positivity and smile will help make us all more aware!

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41 Fiona @ Well-Fed Redhead February 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Alyssa, I hope your surgery goes well! How scary to have skin cancer! I always wear sunscreen because I have a ginger complexion and lack the ability to tan but I still worry about getting skin cancer. The sun’s rays are stronger than ever due to global warming!

Good luck! <3

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42 Sarah February 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm

i am so sorry, this is really scary! I am now going to make an appointment this week! :( I have been thinking about it for a while and haven’t acted, i have no excuses.
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43 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

go do it for me. :) get that skin checked!

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44 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) February 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Oh girl, I’m sending a giant virtual hug your way! I’m so glad they caught it. Although I’ve never had melanoma, it runs in my family and I’ve had over 10 biopsies on ‘suspicious’ marks with abnormal cells. I hate my scars that I have from them, but it’s better to be alive with scars and pale skin than the alternative. And now I go annually for full body scans.
I’m so proud of you for posting about this and PLEASE update us on your status as soon as they let you know that they got it all. Thinking of you!
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45 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm

thank you so much, brit. and you’re right.. i’d much rather be alive with scars. i will keep you updated fa sho.

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46 Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy February 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I’m so sorry to hear girl, but I’m glad you caught it early! And I’m with you, and have been trying to make “pale is the new tan” happen for a while now (for selfish reasons), so hopefully this message will help convince more people!
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47 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm

i so hope it does.

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48 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots February 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I am so sorry to here this, the c word is so darn scary! My mom and grandma both had breast cancer and I not so happily await the day I get diagnosed! That video is amazing and I think they should start showing it to girls in elementary school and middle school and high school, I didn’t get smart about my sunscreen usage until I started lifeguarding when I was in high school and one of the members told me about having so get a piece of skin removed from his forehead due to skin cancer!

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49 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers February 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’m so sorry to hear that! Skin cancer runs in my family, so I should already be more careful. I know how hard it is though. It feels good to be tan, but this is definitely a remind that it never looks/feels THAT good. It’s never worth it.
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50 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List February 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Praying for today’s surgery!! And helping to spread the word, girl!
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51 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm

thank you times a thousand, lindsay!

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52 Kimberly February 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

So sorry to hear this!! Skin cancer also runs in my family. I am “careful” too, but everyone falls into the trap at some point. it is always good to be reminded that we are not invincible, even as 20-somethings. I hope your surgery goes well and know that you have so much support from all over the country!

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53 Bess @ Bess Be Fit February 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Sorry to hear about this :( but hopefully you’ll help some others in the process by putting it out there! I used to be tanorexic in high school…tanning bed every single day. Luckily I got over that and haven’t been in one in years.
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54 Amy February 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Sorry to hear about your news, Alyssa, but thank you for sharing your story. I think a lot of people think it won’t happen to them and that it only happens to people who are older, but it’s important to realize it can happen to anyone at any age and any time. My mom was also diagnosed with skin cancer last year, so I will happily take the pasty pledge with you! Good luck with everything!

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55 Parita @ myinnershakti February 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with you, Alyssa! Here’s to a speedy recovery. And thanks for sharing this message with your readers.

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56 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm

thank you, parita!

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57 Chrissy February 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Alyssa! I’m so sorry to read that darn c-word again:( Best wishes for a speedy recover. The EXACT same thing happened to my sister about a month ago. I’ll tell you what I told her: Pale is Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story with us all! I hope it brings awareness to others! Thinking of you and sending lots of prayers your way, pretty girl!

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58 Jen @ The Well Wire February 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Thank you so much for writing this post. You are so strong to be able to talk about it so quickly. You will get through this. I went to the dermatologist for the first time last month. He told me that he wanted to have a few of my moles removed, but I told him I couldn’t do it until I had additional money in my health savings account in Jan. Now, I had forgotten all about it. I will call him today. Thank you, as you could be helping girls like me kick their booties in gear, or just get out of the sun. Be well!
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59 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm

please oh please do call him!

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60 Kelsey @readysetfeast February 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about this. Thank you for raising awareness, my uncle had skin cancer and it’s really important be aware the importance of sunscreen and taking care of your skin.

Thoughts are with you and hoping you have a very speedy recovery!
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61 Sam @ Sam Bock Illustration & Design February 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I am so so sorry! The “c” word has been all-too-prominent in my life lately; on top of my dad’s ordeal right now, my mama has had skin cancer removed about 12 times. 12!!! My dad, both sets of grandparents, and other family members have all had various forms of skin cancer (my aunt died from it at 35)…but up until about 4 years ago, Stupid Me still would use tanning beds sometimes and was slack with sunscreen in the summertime. I am now a big sunless tanner and have tried ‘em all, and living in AZ for a few years made me petrified of not only cancer, but wrinkles. I haven’t had a real “tan” in a looong time. I absolutely need to go to a dermatologist; my mom has been nagging me to go to hers for a long time now, but I am scared of doctors and am especially scared of what I may find skin-related. But you know what, I need to make an appointment. It is scary stuff and there’s no excuse to not get checked out. EMBRACE the paste! Good luck with everything, my friend. And thanks for sharing your story. Heartbreaking to hear, but we all know your family enjoys kicking the “c” word’s ugly behind. Hope your surgery today goes smoothly!!! xo
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62 Kace February 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Sorry to hear about that! A best of mine is going through the same thing – and she is miss SPF 50 who never gets tan so she doesn’t even try. Def. a wake up call. Prayers as you go through this.
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63 Morgan @ Morganshines February 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Pasty Pledge is made! Be strong girl! Thank you for sharing your story!!!
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64 Emmarie @ Bananas and Beer February 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Thank you for sharing this post with us. You are very brave and I will keep you in my prayers!
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65 Kailey February 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

My love!!! You know I’m thinking of you and praying that this clears up in no time. I will forever be your pasty other half— I’ve always avoided tanning beds and wear sunscreen even in the grey Ohio rain. Embrace the pale– we have our blonde hair for a reason (it looks pretty damn good with a pale complexion). I LOVE YOU! xoxoxox Here for you always.
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66 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm

i. love. you.

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67 cait February 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

oh my love :( im so sorry for you! i’m def going to stop tanning now- i feel like i need this wake up call for someone to tell me to KNOCK IT OFF because no one wants this happening. if you need anything we’re all here for you! xo
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68 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

yes! knock it off, cait. :) spray tans only!

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69 Steph @ StephSnacks February 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I’m really sorry this has happened to you :( being cautious–and over-cautious–is something that everyone has to do a bit more. I think we all take advantage of the ‘positive’ attributes of the sun rather than the negative. Thank you for sharing, and we’ll all be cheering for you along the way!
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70 Kaelin February 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Oh my gosh!! This is really scary! I hope everything goes well for you today. I am a red head and definitely abused my skin in high school and college and while I still love the looks of a tan, I try to do better with staying out of the sun a little more and wearing higher SPFs.

I take the Pasty Pledge!!!

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71 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

high five for the pasty pledge. :)

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72 Andrea @ Andrea Out Loud! February 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm

When I saw your tweet last week it broke my heart! I am so happy you are advocating though, and as scared as I am … i will bite the bullet and head to the dermatologist (I have NEVER been).
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73 Dorsa @ Running Thoughts February 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Oh no Alyssa, I am so sorry to hear this :( I hope you get better soon!
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74 Theresa February 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

oh my gosh, im so sorry to hear this…you just motivated me to make a derm appt, ive been meaning to do it for a while and keep putting it off!! i slather sunscreen religiously, but i still worry. my friend had a scare with her moles, and ive been very aware of the dangers of skin cancer because of her too.
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75 Heather@Just a Colorado Gal February 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Oh no, I am so sorry to hear this! You’ve reminded me to go get a checkup as well–it’s been awhile and i’m in the sun a lot too. Although I hate to hear how it arrived, thank you for the reminder to take care of ourselves.
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76 Erin @ Running Tall February 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

So sorry to hear this news Alyssa. Thinking of you this morning while you’re in surgery! PS: You’ve totally inspired me to make my first ever derm appointment…bad that it’s my first ever but better late than never.
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77 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm

im SO glad!! good luck!

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78 Susan February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Ohnononono. I’ve been silently reading for a while but I just had to pipe up and say how upset I am over this! Is surgery the only course of action? I love your message of being careful though. I was just declared cancer-free last week after 6 months of treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I think the biggest mistake people our age is assume they are invincible, when the choices we make today WILL affect us. Often sooner than we think.

Good luck today!!! xoxoxoxo
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79 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

thank you so much, Susan. and oh my gosh, congrats to you!! I’m so happy you’re officially cancer-free.

surgery was the only course of action for me. I had a big piece of my back taken out, a piece on my arm, and I will get a piece out of my chest in two weeks when they take the other stitches out because they can’t two three procedures at once. it’s all scary and crappy, but I’m so thankful we both are alive and well. :)

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80 Emily February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

thoughts and prayers to you! you’re too strong to let this get you down. please know that this post is opening the eyes of SO many people

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81 Stacy February 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I am passing it on!

I am very fair skinned and always worry about skin cancer. I go to the dermatologist every year and hold my breath until she gives me the all clear.

Hang in there, Girlie. Keeping you in my thoughts today.
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82 Emily February 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I give you so much credit for putting this out there. I always thought I was being “smart,” too. I never went to the tanning bed, but I also passed on sunscreen way more often than I should. Now, at 21, I’m getting freckles and moles that I thought my skin tone would have saved me from… Better safe than sorry, regardless of how light or dark you are!
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83 Christine February 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m 22 and I’ve had five moles removed over the past few three years. I was particularly nervous about the last one, which I got removed about two weeks ago. Needless to say, I was relieved to hear from my Dermatologist that it was benign. My mom had melanoma in her arm when I was in High School. She had the surgery and they excised the whole area. She never needed chemo or any other treatments. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this experience. You’re already such a strong girl, and this will make you that much stronger. There’s no doubt that you’ll come out of this fighting and win this battle with cancer. Stay strong.

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84 Mandy February 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

THANK YOU for this post! So informative. I am sharing this will all my girlfriends. You have absolutely changed the way I view the sun and tanning… seriously, thank you. Good luck with everything <3

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85 Noel February 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

First time commenter here…I’m making an appt right now! I have been meaning to do this for awhile. Sorry to hear your news!

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86 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm

please do! good luck.

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87 Noel February 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I’m going next week. Hope you are recovering well.

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88 Amy Lauren February 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

This is the first time I’ve ever read your blog, but you definitely did the right thing.

My mom had malignant melanoma. She had it removed, and they got it all… so no chemo or radiation, but she does have to go to the derm twice a year now for checkups. In fact, she found it herself- she saw an abnormality using one of those 10x magnifying mirrors for makeup. Her primary care physician actually dismissed it, saying it was probably nothing at all, but she insisted he remove it, and when he did, they found out it was malignant melanoma.

You have to be your own advocate about things and ask. Many primary care doctors won’ even do a skin check unless you ask or have a concern so it’s important to.

Anyway… I hope it goes well getting the cancer removed from your back. It’s hard to have something like skin cancer at a young age but you’re definitely in a great position to warn others. And you’re totally right- the lotions DO work wonders and are cheaper than a tanning bed anyway.
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89 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I’m so glad your mom caught it. and so glad you agree that lotions are so much better. :) let’s get all the girls out of the tanning beds now.

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90 Maria@healthydiaries February 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I’m SOO sorry for this crappy news. Skin cancer runs in my family so I don’t use tanning beds, but think I could spend less time in the sun during the summer. I just had my family doctor check my skin, but I will be making an appointment today with my dermatalogist. It’s been too long since I’ve gone. Thanks for the reminder and I really hope everything will be ok.! Hugs!

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91 Anna February 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Alyssa, I’m a new reader to your blog and I’m so sorry to here this. :( I gave up fake tanning last year and after reading this post, I am more confident in my decision than ever before. Thank you for writing this to raise awareness on the subject. I’m forwarding your post along to all my friends I know who go tanning.

Sending good vibes your way for a speedy recovery!
-Anna
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92 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm

SO glad you gave up tanning and thank you for helping me spread the word, Anna. you rock.

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93 Kelly @ Running Kellometers February 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I’m so sorry! My cousin also had skin cancer at age 24. She is constantly going back and getting other spots, freckles, etc. checked. It really can happen to anyone! I wish you a strong and speedy recovery!
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94 Maura K February 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm

As someone who works with cancer patients on a daily basis, you’d think I’d be better about practicing what I preach. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. I’m taking the Pasty Pledge with you and just scheduled my annual derm screening this morning. I hope your procedure goes well! Wishing you a speedy recovery :)

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95 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I’m so glad, Maura! get outta that tanning bed and get that SPF on yo skin. :)

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96 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy February 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I am so sorry to hear this, but thank you for sharing your story. I invested in a sun lamp (no UV rays) last winter for extra light, and remain my pasty self in the winter. However, I can spend too much time outside in the summer. It’s not even worth it. I hope that your surgery goes well, and that we can all learn from this!
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97 janae@hungryrunnergirl.com February 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

OH ALYSSA!!! I am tearing up as I read this post. I am truly so sorry and I will be praying for you! Thank you for the reminder, I will definitely think about you when I am making decisions about sunscreen etc. I love you and let me know what i can do for you!

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98 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

you rock, janae. the only thing you can do for ME is keep using that sunscreen and get to a dermatologist and get checked out. and spread the word to everyone you know to do the same! :) xoxo

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99 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health February 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this Alyssa! I hope they caught it early. I used to go tanning and not really take care of my skin. But after both of my parents have cancerous moles removed and my grandma just getting melanoma, I am done with it. As bad as I think I look pale, I’d rather be that way than risk it!
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100 jackie February 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am praying for you.
I am down with the Pasty Pledge.
I used to be a tanning bed junkie. I got a staph infection last year (not from tanning bed) and was hospitalized for a few days. Even though the staph didn’t come from tanning bed, I am now super paranoid about lying in a tanning bed- like is it clean, sanitized, etc. So no more tanning for me.

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101 Meg @ My Chocolate Covered Life February 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

My husband needs to read this. He’s classic in the “I don’t burn” and “I don’t like sunscreen” department, even though his mom and grandpa had melanoma!

Well guess who is getting HIS melanoma removed from his chest tomorrow at 2:30pm? Yup, Mr. 30-year-old Invincible.
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102 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

oh my gosh. yes – show this to him and get that SPF for ol guy over there!

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103 Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe February 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Great post – it’s important to spread the word, and to understand that even if you are being smart, it can happen to anyone – the importance of regular check-ups is only further hilighted. I wish you a speedy recovery – hugs!
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104 Jen February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I’m so so so sorry to hear this! I watched the video (the whole thing!) and teared up. I’m a red head with freckles and semi-pale skin (i use sunscreen but still tan/burn a little) and after a bad experience with a derm a few years ago I’ve been putting off an appointment. I read your post, pulled up my insurance info and found a doctor. Thank you for this kick in the pants!

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105 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

SO glad you made an appt. good luck, Jen!

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106 Jen February 10, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I’m scheduled for the 20th. I’m guessing you had them removed on a different date than your appointment that found them?

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107 Danielle February 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I just want to say I am sorry to hear this and I wish you the best of luck – thank you so much for sharing this, and I will be sending this off to my friends, my little sister (who just turned 16) and my family.
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108 Holly February 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

So sorry to hear about this, BUT I know you will beat it! You are so strong!!! & it’s just a little bump in the road of life. I hope surgery went well- I think it did…since I just saw your FB status :) I’m thinking of you!! Xo
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109 Angela February 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Alyssa, I’ve been a longtime reader of your blog but this is my first comment. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. I’ve used tanning beds off and on for the past couple years (I live in Pittsburgh, where we rarely see a sunny day!), but a few weeks ago I decided enough is enough. Your post made me realize that I made the right decision…and now i’m going to stick to it. I actually have a derm appointment scheduled for this week, and i’m going to make sure to get a thorough examination. I hope everything goes well for you today, sending thoughts your way!

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110 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm

thank you, Angela! yes.. get yourself some sunless tanner (or spray tans! they’re cheap these days!). good luck at your derm appt!

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111 Jess @ Truly.Into.Fitness February 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that Alyssa :( I’m sending you all of my love and positive thoughts <333
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112 Amber K February 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I am so so sorry. :(

I always feel guilty when people talk about skin cancer. Because I have not found a single sunscreen that doesn’t make me break out into a giant itchy lobster rash. Spray-on, creams, zinc oxide only sunscreens, sunscreens for people with sensitive skin. It all makes me absolutely miserable with rashes. I stay out of the sun as much as possible, because I really don’t want cancer!
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113 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I would contact a dermatologist and simply ask him/her! they have GOT to know of a kind that won’t irritate your skin. now go do it now. for me. :)

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114 Amber K February 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I’ll have to bring it up when I schedule a skin check!
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115 Jen February 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

This might sound crazy…but maybe you are allergic to sunscreen? A friend of mine had the same reaction when we were on a cruise, went to the derm when she got home. Now she has to use organic sunscreen

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116 Amber K February 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

That’s what I’ve been thinking! Because it’s just so weird (and frustrating).
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117 Jen February 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Def get it checked by a derm just in case and see if they can recommend certain brands or types that are organic. My friend tried everyone’s sunscreen on the cruise and the same reaction kept happening.

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118 Shannon February 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I’m really sorry to hear this. I work in cancer research and the c-word is definitely one that triggers a lot of emotion. What stage are you? Do you need treatment?
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119 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm

thankfully, my three spots of melanoma aren’t deep enough to need further treatment as long as the tissue they send out comes back okay. I still need to have a second surgery for a spot on my chest, but I’m thankful I don’t need to go further than the surgeries!

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120 Shannon February 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm

That is awesome, awesome, awesome news! Keep your head up lady!
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121 Lindsey February 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm

So sorry to hear this. My sister was diagnosed with Stage IIB Melanoma when she was 27. She had surgery to remove it and also two lymph nodes to confirm it hadn’t spread. It was the scariest time of my life thinking I could have lost my best friend. Stay strong!

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122 Gabby February 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Praying for you.

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123 Erin (TexanCouture) February 6, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I know exactly what you are going through. I had a spot on my back that was scrapped. The Dr. called me to let me know the initial lab work showed it was scar tissue so they were running more tests on the tissue. It came back as melanoma so I had a huge chunk cut out of my left shoulder in November. It it way worse than any tan line could have ever been. I have a long red scar surrouned by red dots from the stiches. Thankfully I switched to spray tan only about 6 months ago I just wish I was smart enough to have spray tanned only for my entire life.
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124 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm

me, too, Erin. me, too. now we can be scar twins and rock the spray tans. :)

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125 Talia @ Bite Size Wellness February 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this! I think your message is in hear loud and clear and I know I appreciate you talking about it and sharing your experience to spread knowledge. Wishing you all the best.
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126 Tina @ Best Body Fitness February 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Wow. Wow. As soon as I read this earlier on my phone I immediately started tearing up and saying a big prayer for you. I’m still so in shock. As you said, no one is immune. Everyone needs to see that and I bet someone is finally having it sink in after hearing your story. I’m here if you need anything at all!
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127 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm

big, big hugs and kisses to you, Tina. I’m so thankful for all the prayers I can get. I think I might need some negative calories from a few of my training runs. I’m going to be missing those run endorphins for a while!

…and M and B videos. hit me with some of those. ;)

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128 Jen@FoodFamilyFitness February 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I’m sitting here reading this with my mouth hanging open and tears running down my face. I know you don’t know me from the man on the moon, but I am so sorry. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
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129 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I really appreciate that, Jen. thank you!

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130 Coco February 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this.. and that video is a bit scary! Which is a good thing. Stay positive- and I’ll be sending positive vibes your way!

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131 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Sounds like you are being super brave – and props for making it an opportunity to spread the word.
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132 Loni February 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Wow, I’m truly sorry to hear this. I am glad it got detected though so that it can be treated soon. Thank you so much for being so open and sharing your journey with us. I actually live in Norfolk and frequent VA Beach so this rings a little too close to home for me. Yikes! Sending you well wishes for your treatment..

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133 Lauren February 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Such a brave and honest post, Alyssa. I have pretty fair skin and unlike a lot of equally fair people I know who try to defy their skin and tan anyways, I’ve kind of accepted my light skin and think it’s one of my favorite features so I’m always sure to protect it.
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134 Tara February 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Wow Alyssa – this really hit home. I rarely worry about my skin because I’m really not fair and don’t burn easily, but I’m not invincible. In the past year 4 people in my family have been diagnosed with some type of cancer, and I’m not going to be the 5th. Wishing you a quick recovery!!
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135 Kristine @ Running On Hungry February 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I am so sorry and bummed out to hear this shitty news, but SO happy that you went to the dermo, she (he?) caught it, and that you’re taking the steps to get rid of that damn c-word for good. Sending you the most positive thoughts ever, and wishing you a speedy recovery!
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136 Paulette February 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm

This really inspired me to have a mole looked at that was worrying me a few months ago, so THANK YOU. I just made the appt to get a dermatology referral. I hope everything goes well for you, hang in there!

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137 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:25 am

I’m so glad, Paulette!

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138 Larisa February 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm

This really hits home, my father struggled with this constantly. I am sorry and grateful all at the same time, esp since you were smart and made that appt. I will be making mine tomorrow. Thank you for speaking out!

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139 Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run February 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I am so sorry, girl!! Man…cancer seems to be a word used pretty often these days…and it frightens me. My youngest sister lives in the tanning bed, and she never ever “gets it” when I tell her to step out of it. I worked for a biotech company that is working on melanoma treatments. Before that, I worked in a pathology lab, and I can’t tell you how many times I did a frozen section on a suspicious mole that sent a diagnosis of melanoma to an operating room. It’s extremely common…frighteningly so.

I actually got into a huge argument with a tanning salon owner over cancer…he literally said, “If I had proof that tanning caused cancer I would have gotten out of the business years ago.” Really? REALLY?! I went off on him, and he came back to explain that tanning is a necessity, because it provides Vitamin D and that he never promotes the overuse of tanning. I then posted links on the salon’s FB page in rebuttal…links to the “unlimited tanning for $10 this month only!” and “buy the everyday special and get a free tanning accelerator!” advertisements from his website. He blocked me.

It’s amazing how easily people are convinced of “the good” in actually REALLY unhealthy habits. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have listened.

I hope that the removal of the spot on your back is the last you hear of the disease, Alyssa. It’s definitely never too late to change your outlook and your habits. (Living in VA Beach surely doesn’t help, I know…I used to live near there.) I’m wishing you the best and you’re in my thoughts.
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140 Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run February 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

And by the way…I am SO sorry about all the cancer you’ve had to face with your family. I can’t imagine the heartache. This is another reason you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.
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141 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:24 am

I’m SO glad you’re willing to fight against it.. I have to keep myself from picketing outside all the tanning places nearby. the doctor actually told be before surgery my back was a spot that turned to melanoma BECAUSE of the tanning bed. so that guy can go suck on that. ;)

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142 Cindy February 7, 2012 at 12:22 am

Sending you all the best, Alyssa! You’re going to be just fine! I’m sharing this with everyone!
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143 Bari February 7, 2012 at 12:54 am

((hugs)) Prayers this has been caught early and your surgery went well.
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144 Hillary February 7, 2012 at 12:55 am

Yikes, Alyssa. Thank you for sharing this. My grandmother had melanoma about seven years ago, and she had to have a huge chunk of skin removed from her nose. I grew up on the beach, and I know that all of those childhood burns will catch up to me sooner or later…but I’ve never been checked by a derm. Thank you for the reminder that it’s not something I can afford to put off any longer. Thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery!
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145 Val @eatrunandfancyfun February 7, 2012 at 12:57 am

So sorry to hear that news, Ill keep you in my thoughts and prayers!! My sister was diagnosed with Melanoma a few years ago and luckily they were able to cut it all out. Ever since then it’s all jergen’s gradual tanning lotion or spray tans for this girl. It is a huge wakeup call.
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146 Brittany @ LessBritt MoreLife February 7, 2012 at 1:25 am

Love you girl! Pasty girls rock :) Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! I burn quite easily even though i put sunscreen on. Until i found the most amazing sunscreen EVER! It’s Blue Lizard and it’s made in Australia so they know what they’re talking about! It’s hard to find in the US, but is great stuff once you do! It’s the only sunscreen that i’ve found that keeps me from getting a sunburn! Great stuff ma’am :)
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147 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:21 am

GOOD to know! thanks for the tip!

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148 Kristen @ notsodomesticated February 7, 2012 at 1:44 am

I had to do the same thing the summer before I got married … a chunk out of my back. It made for a super cute scar come wedding day (insert annoyed smiley here!).

Now the “surgery” itself really wasn’t bad and I don’t even mind the scar because at least it’s on my back and not my face, but it was definitely a wake-up call. My mom has had about a million spots scraped or cut off, and I don’t want that to be me. I really try to be hyper-vigilant about sunblock now, and I just use self-tanner. For really special events, I do a professional spray tan. In my opinion, it often looks better than the results of a tanning bed!
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149 Megan February 7, 2012 at 1:46 am

I feel for ya!! I was diagnosed with skin cancer at 16 on my nose. All due to not wearing sunscreen… Your post made me kick myself again for not being more cautious with taking care of protecting my skin. Hope you heal quickly!

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150 meg pinkgiggles February 7, 2012 at 2:44 am

my conversation with my best friend this morning after reading this post:
me- i had the weirdest dream about engagement rings last night
bff- OMG its a sign!!
me- yeah, a sign that I am a crazy person
bff- brb. i’m going tanning
me- NO YOU ARE NOT!! THIS IS A SIGN!
and then I told her to read this post.

I am praying for you and a speedy recovery. <3
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151 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:20 am

best. convo. ever. you’re awesome!

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152 Jen February 7, 2012 at 2:45 am

Hey! I recently found your blog and I’ve been reading and laughing at your antics. I actually live in Virginia Beach too and used to train at JWFS (weird, isn’t it?!) I really wish you the best of luck, you’re brave for sharing so openly on your blog and you’ve gotten me wanting to schedule an appointment of my own..I’ve been contemplating tanning for my spring wedding but I may just have to forego that idea!

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153 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:20 am

yes! get a spray tan for your wedding.. seriously. and crazy you used to go to JWFS! and schedule an appt at tidewater skincare… dr. silver is absolutely amazing.

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154 Megan February 7, 2012 at 2:49 am

Oh my goodness I will raise you up in my prayers. I would assume they caught it early enough? Stay strong :)

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155 Bailey February 7, 2012 at 2:53 am

Lyss I don’t even know you but I feel like I do. This got me all teary eyed, I am making an appointment tomorrow. I can’t even count all my sunburns. Gah I feel so stupid now. Get well soon and God bless. Thank you for this wake up call.

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156 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:18 am

don’t you dare feel stupid! I’m so glad you got your appointment and you must let me know how it goes!

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157 Chelsea M February 7, 2012 at 3:08 am

I wish you all the best in surgery Alyssa. I’m an oncology nurse so I know how scary this can be but I admire your strong upbeat attitude about it. Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness about such an important issue in your corner of the internet.

Luckily I am a person who goes to the dermatologist every year for a full body scan. I have been lucky so far but I cannot say that I’ve never been in a tanning bed or have gotten sunburn at the beach. We all need a reality check now and again.

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158 Mallory @ Have Your Cake February 7, 2012 at 5:06 am

omg, alyssa. thank you for sharing this. I am so SO sorry to hear you are going through this- definitely an eye opener. I have never gone tanning (except on the beach that is) and ive only had couple really bad sunburns in my life…but this is enough to make me make an appt. I do research on why people dont get screened for various types of cancers so i should be getting my yearly screening appointments as it is! thanks for that extra kick in the butt. YOU WILL ROCK YOUR SURGERY! Praying for you
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159 Laurie February 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Hi Alyssa, I’m new to your blog, I’m sorry about the diagnosis and hope your surgery goes well. I need to get some moles checked out myself, I have a stupid question for you, when you go in to get moles checked, I heard you had to get completely unclothed so they can checked all over your body for suspicious moles, True? Also, do you do day surgery to have the moles removed or in the doctor’s office? Sorry for the questions, just want to be prepared just in case. Thanks again for this post! Wake up call for everyone for sure!

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160 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

you take off everything but your underwear and wear a paper gown for them to do a full-body check. and I had my surgery in my doctors office on a bed. good luck!

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161 julie February 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

pasty pledge for me right hur. xox girl glad to hear all went well! white is the new bronze no?

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162 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

yes. yes it is.

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163 Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans February 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Thank you for using your difficult experience to motivate others to take better care of themselves. You are very brave and inspiring :)
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164 Bridget @ Type A-Frame Personality February 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

So sorry to hear, but I hope it gets handled swiftly and this is just a blip on the radar in your otherwise healthy life! I think its great you are getting the word out and you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
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165 Alyson February 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Prayers be with you, Alyssa! <3 I definitely will seek to be more careful! I've been telling myself about it for a while, but it's truly important to not worry about being tan and be pasty. :) I know that God will keep you safe and well!

Love and more love,
Aly

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166 Ellie@Fit for the Soul February 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I will definitely be praying for you Alyssa! ahhh it sounds like a really scary time, but good thing you found it before it got worse. This video was really eye opening actually! And I’m grateful to you for spreading the word to all of us. Stay strong and hang in there! Much love <3
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167 Rach February 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Oh my dear gracious… wow… oh my. Wow. Oh girl, I am so glad that it was caught, but I still can’t imagine how difficult this must be right now. Prayers for surgery as painless as possible and for quick healing! Love you, sweet lady!
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168 Maja February 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I’m sending you all good thoughts!!! Definitly a wake up call. I am super pale, with birthmarks, and never go to the Dermatologist.
All the best to you !!!
Hug,
Maja

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169 Megan February 8, 2012 at 12:22 am

I just had my first skin check today, thanks to your post! had 2 moles sent to be biopsied, both of which the derm thinks will come back fine. thanks for giving me the push to do something i should’ve done years ago!

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170 Kim February 8, 2012 at 12:56 am

Thank you for sharing. I was diagnosed with melanoma 3.5 years ago at age 25. Like you, I would use the tanning bed only from time to time for special occasions, but growing up I was spending my summer days at the pool sans sunscreen. Fortunately, my mom pestered me enough soon after college to get into a routine of getting screened annually.

Now I get screened 2-3 times a year (for those that don’t know, once you’ve been diagnosed you are 40% more likely to have a second melanoma within a year). if anything is at all suspicious, I tell them to remove it. The small scar will look a lot better than the large one later on.

Best of luck to you in your recovery! I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

P.S. Most dermatologists offer laser treatments for free after surgery to help with elasticity of the skin around your scar. Mine really isn’t bad anymore. Also, use some topical scar treatment that contains silicone (its like nail polish — you just paint it on your scar).

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171 Meg February 8, 2012 at 3:07 am

My thoughts and prayers are with you Alyssa you are so amazing and strong and definitely do not deserve this but I know you will kick this cancer’s butt with your amazing attitude and personality.
You have a strong community behind you and we all care so much about you!
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172 Lena @Fit on the Rocks February 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I’m totally one of those “smart” tanners, so thanks for the heads up and the fantastic video. I’ll be making an appointment asap. Best of wishes to you. You’re strong, and I know you’ll get through this.
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173 Kim February 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm

This may sound naive, but I’m wondering how they found the skin cancer and how they determined where to remove it? If you didn’t have any noticeable spots, then how did they know where to check for it? I’m just curious because I went to the dermatologist about a year ago and he really only looked at a couple of moles that I expressed concern over, not all over…it makes me worried that he might have overlooked something!

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174 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

definitely go in and have them check all over. my spots were tiny.. and my derm said she knew they were cancerous because of their dark color. but truly, they weren’t large, irregular, or weird looking! they were little freckles.

just schedule an entire skin screening. that way, they’ll check your whole bod. :)

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175 Karla @myhighonlife February 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I have been thinking and praying for you, girl. Thanks for sharing this video, it brought tears to my eyes. But more importantly, fear. I have been tanning since I was 15. I have lifeguarded every summer (using little to no sunscreen) & have no ‘scary spots’.. but you better believe as soon as my health insurance kicks in I’ll be going in for a check. We love you! :)
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176 ash @ http://peacehappinessyoga.blogspot.com/ February 9, 2012 at 1:23 am

Prayers and best wishes to you, I am getting myself and my bf checked this month. I have always been a sun worshiper.
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177 Easa February 9, 2012 at 2:18 am

I was hoping the stitches were from a minor incident involving alcohol. Sorry to hear the sober news. Surviving melanoma is all about catching it early. Life is precious, fragile, and shorter than we often realize.
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178 Amy February 10, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I’m so glad you posted this! It’s a good reminder to everyone out there–we all think we’re so invisible! I’m SUCH a whitey but I used to let the burn turn into a tan…until my mom got melanoma and started charging us $5 for our own “skin cancer funds.” It sounds cruel and I HATED her at the time, but boy am I grateful now! I hope your surgery went well, that you recover quickly, and that you get back out there soon–covered in sunscreen!

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179 Olivia February 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I had no idea you were supposed to get screened yearly! Thanks for the heads up.

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180 Julie February 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Thank you for sharing your story! About three weeks ago my esthetician looked at one of my moles and was like, “You should get that checked out.” I didn’t pay much attention because the spot has been there for a while not bothering me but after reading your story I’ve officially called and made an appointment for my first screening. I worked at a tanning salon and definitely didn’t even try to “tan smart” so I know I’ve done some damage. Again, thanks for sharing and best of luck to you!
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181 Elizabeth February 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

Thank you SO much for this blog post. I had a mole on my leg that I had been watching since the fall and kept thinking that I needed to call the dermatologist to have them look at it. After reading your post, I called the next morning and was able to miraculously get an appointment the next morning. They removed the mole and I just got a call today saying that the biopsy came back abnormal. I’m going in tomorrow morning to discuss things further since they can’t say anything on the phone, but I really attest your post for reminding me to make the call when I did. I’m sure things will turn okay, but I just wanted to tell you THANK YOU! And I hope everything turns out okay for you too!

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182 Bridget February 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I had skin cancer five years ago and when I read this post, it sounded just like my expereience. Tiny mole on my back. I just asked my doctor that did my yearly to look over my skin to see if antyhing looked funny. She thought the one on my back did so we had it removed…came back positive for melanoma. I had surgery to get the skin removed all around and luckily they caught it early. I was the cautious one in my group of friends. I was always wearing sunscreen and avoiding tanning beds. I now get my moles checked yearly (or every 6 months). I think the youtube video is great. I saw it on FB a couple months ago and re-posted it so all my friends could see. I hope the outcome of your surgery is like mine…caught early and did not spread!!!!

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183 Jennifer February 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I just stumbled upon your blog from http://www.PeanutButterFingers.com and know exactly how you are feeling . I was 24 when I was diagnosed with melanoma. I went to the dermatologist for another reason and ended up showing her two moles on my stomach that hadn’t always been there. She removed them and they both came back malignant melanoma. Luckily I caught it early and have not had any issues since, but I will NEVER step foot in a tanning bed again, or be outside for any period of time w/o sunscreen. The two nasty scars on my stomach are enough to remind me that life is very precious.

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184 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss January 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm

It’s so true, and people really don’t seem to “get it” unless it’s happened to them. I have good friends who still go in the tanning bed even after seeing my four scars. It kills me.

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185 Laura @ prettylittlewords February 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Alyssa!!

I actually just had two “chunks” removed this past summer myself, and they showed signs of pre-cancerous cells. While one of mine DID look risky, the other didn’t. I do have a million moles though, so I know to be diligent about going every year now.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery and thanks for spreading the message!
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186 Adrianna February 22, 2012 at 1:15 am

God Bless you :)
thank you for this post. it really struck a chord with me, in a good way. I’ve gotta see my derm.

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187 Ann June 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Alyssa: You are doing some darn good work here young lady! I was diagnosed at age 50 with 3 Malignant Melanomas, looked like freckles – since then 16 Dysplastic Nevi, again looked like freckles. Glad you caught yours early! Keep spreading the word .

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188 Kate July 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Ohh, now I’m kind of scared. I don’t go tanning- in fact, I wish I didn’t tan so easily. But no matter HOW MUCH SUN PROTECTION IS BEING USED ON MY SKIN, I TAN. I try to stay as pale as possible. never works. I go outside for a little bit? I get even more of a tan. I hate it.
But nowadays, people are saying, ‘if you’re tan, you get skin cancer because being tan means you go to tanning salons and don’t use sunscreen.’ Excuse me, but I do neither of these and I’m still tan. Does that mean I’ll get melanoma? Sure, it’s a fear of mine, but it’s not like I spend HOURS AND HOURS lying in the sun trying to get tan. I try not to, and now people are saying I’m going to get melanoma because I’m naturally tan Just read any other website.

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189 Life's a Bowl November 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I can totally relate… I have 2 huge 3+ inch gashes in each thigh from having melanomas removed. I wasn’t a serious anner, or lay in the beds, but I did enjoy enjoy going to the beach and playing sports outdoors. Definitely not the kinda news you ever wanna hear…

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190 Lisa December 29, 2012 at 11:59 am

Such an important message! Thank you for sharing your story!

I don’t have cancer but a few years ago I found a lump in my breast. It was terrifying. It took almost a month of doctor appointments, specialist, ultrasounds, biospsies and finally surgery to remove it. It was a fibroadenoma but it scared me to death.

The skin cancer thing terrifies me because while I’ve never tanned, I’ve been sunburned A LOT as a kid. I’m extremely fair and even though I try to do my best with super strong sunscreen, I still get burned at least once a year. I also have a lot of freckles. I get checked every year at a dermatologist but it’s still something I worry about.
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191 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss January 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Lisa, I also have had a fibroadenoma removed from my breast. I was in high school. Small world, man! Kudos to you for getting that skin checked yearly. :)

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192 Christina Leader March 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Hi,
My name is christina leader. I am 17 years old, and yesturday I went tanning for the first time and loved the results. But I also know the risks and today the guilt barley over shadowed the joy my new glow brought me so I googled (I am not joking) “I just went tanning and i like it but I know I shouldn’t do it” and your story may have just saved my life. I want so badly to be tan because I am actually clear I am so pale so my friend dragged me to a tanning salon and essentially pushed me in, but you have showed me that pale can be beautiful and tanning is not worth the risk. From now on every time I say no to tanning or put on sunscreen even though I don’t want to be “greasy” it will be thanks to you. Thank you for possibly saving my life.
I am so sorry you got sick, I wish you the best. You changed my life.

Christina Leader

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193 Sarah May 27, 2013 at 8:22 am

It’s so funny I’m reading this. I’ve had skin cancer 3 times on my face. My face is altered a little bit at a time each time they take out the Basel cells. Today is Memorial Day and I was looking up a safe way to tan after having skin cancer because my legs are so white and veiny looking I can’t stand the color anymore. All I want is a little bit of sun. And, I came across your blog(?) in the search posting on Google. I’m 35 and have had skin cancer every other year since 2008. What started out as what I thought was a pimple was actually cancer. I have to have monthly check ups every 3 months. I like the color of my skin right now – white. But I’m so disappointed with my veiny, white legs. I’m going to try the Jergens Natural Glow that you suggest here instead and sit in the shade. Thank you for reminding me that I shouldn’t be out in the sun. I didn’t know about the tiny freckle thing and will make sure my doctor is checking me more carefully just in case. I hope you are doing well. Happy Memorial Day!

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194 Jerome June 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

People usually don’t stare for long intervals of time at something that doesn’t attraction to them.
There is no known remedy for eczema, treatment for the illness is only meant to control the signs and symptoms.
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