Help Me Spread Skin Cancer Awareness

February 23, 2012 · 59 comments

Life without stitches is so liberating.

Without the stitches, I’m much more flexible and limber. I’m bendy like a twisty bobcat pretzel.

I want to do the chicken dance all day just because I can finally flap my wings without it hurting.

And here’s the part where I ask you all to help me spread the word in raising skin cancer awareness. So no one’s twisty bobcat pretzel is encumbered and so no one has these icky scars.

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Hit that button. Spread awareness.

It makes me so, so happy each time I hear of anyone going to see their dermatologist because of my case of skin cancer. Now, what I really want is for everyone to spread the message to get more and more people vowing to never step foot in a tanning bed again.

If you didn’t get the message before, it’s the tanning bed that is the absolute worst for your skin. Although our ozone is depleted and the sun is harmful, the tanning bed is much harsher on our skin cells.

If you’re not a regular reader, you can read about my fun little skin cancer journey here, here, aaand here.

Remember, I rarely went tanning. I always wear sunscreen. My malignant spots were tiny little freckles, not big, scary-looking moles, and these big scars are what I’m left with. Even though I have these, I’m a lucky cancer-free girl because my cancer was caught before it could spread anywhere.

I want to prevent everyone else from getting melanoma, too.

Please, please share this message and that (although kinda gross, sorryboutit) picture. Can you tell I’m going for the freakout factor here?

Way too many girls (especially the ones I see walking around the school where I work) go tanning on a regular basis today and sport the “it won’t happen to me” mindset. Maybe if we litter Pinterest and Facebook with melanoma information along with photos of my gross scars, we can get people realizing how serious the risks are, getting them out of the tanning salons.

Spray tans work, guys. Use the build-a-tan lotions. Grab some bronzer. No more tanning beds.

Thank you in advance to anyone who is helping me spread this important message.

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry February 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

So proud of you Aly-pop! And I am not going to lie, your story really scares me. Particularly because I have similar looking, small, frecklish/moles that have popped up in the last few years that I have never been concerned about because they are so SMALL, and normal-looking. And I already told you this, but I am lazy about the suncreen. I don’t go indoor tanning, but man, in the summer I am so lazy with the sunscreen! No more!
I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to get checked, absolutely 100% inspired by you.

On another note, you are becoming quite the Photoshop pro!
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2 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I’m so glad! thank you, lady, for making a change. :)

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3 Lauren February 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Tweeted and pinned!!!

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4 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Great way to spread your message! The fact that the spots weren’t abnormal looking is the scariest part!
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5 jamie @ getalivingsense February 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Well you got this girl to schedule a skin check (which i actually JUST got home from) so THANK YOU!!! :) Way to go w/ the awareness spreading, you’re awesome Alyssa! :)

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6 A @ Adventure or Nothing February 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I have two weird looking moles (gross) on my back, plus several new freckles that popped up in the last year. I kept telling myself it was nothing, and the day after I noticed one mole, you said you had skin cancer. I made myself an appointment right then. I felt like it was a sign…ugh so cliche…but I really felt that way. Thanks for your inspiration and information. Now I just have to wait until April for my appointment…not long at all.
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7 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I’m so glad you made your appointment! Definitely let me know how it goes. GOOD LUCK!

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8 Brianne February 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

So happy to hear you are cancer free!! I have been reading your blog for a while and followed your journey with skin cancer. I was a tanning bed user in my high school and college days and I vow to never go again. I DID go see my dermatologist and while I am having 3 iffy looking moles removed (i had 3 removed 2 years ago and they were benign), its scary enough to never step foot in a tanning bed as much as I am going to miss my tan every summer I would rather be alive and embrace being paler…

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9 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I’m so glad you say that. I cringe every time I hear of people still going to the tanning bed even after hearing what the risks are.

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10 Lindsey February 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I vow to never use a tanning bed again!!! Thanks, Aly! Shared, shared, and shared!

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11 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

big, big hugs to you, Linds. :) xoxo

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12 sarah February 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Hi Alyssa,
Thanks so much for sharing your story. My mom was diagnosed with melanoma last year and thankfully was also free and clear after they removed the mole. I’ve been to the dermatologist three times in the last two years and have had a few moles removed to be checked.

If you don’t mind me asking, did you doctor say what it was that caused him/her to test those moles, since they were pretty much normal looking? My dermatologist has only removed moles that did have some abnormality or seemed different from all my other moles, so I’m interested to know what your doctor saw and caused them to test. Thanks.

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13 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I’m so glad your mama’s cancer free, too!

my derm said the dark colors are what made her remove the moles to test them.

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14 Amber K February 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Sharing it in any way I can! I’ve never gone to a tanning bed or even laid out, but I’m booking an appt with a derm to find out what I can do about sunscreen!
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15 Leah @ Why Deprive? February 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I am SO glady you’re sharing all this. It will no doubt, absolutely make a difference.
I stopped going into tanning beds when I was 19 and started getting wrinkles, so my reasoning is highly superficial – but I don’t care what it took, I’m glad I made the decision.
I noticed a spot on my side that wasn’t there before, so I’m definitely getting myself in to have it checked out. You’re my reminder to take it seriously and not put it off like I do with everything else.
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16 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

definitely get it checked out! let me know how it goes.

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17 Jaclyn February 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. I am 26 and I have had about 15+ moles removed, a few being the early stages melanoma. I would give anything to go back and be pale than have these scars forever. Stay strong! :)
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18 Jenny February 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Hahah I read that separately, as, “There is no safe.” “Way to go, tanning.” Like, yeah, tanning, you’re such a dick.

I’m so glad you’re alright, and you’ve inspired me to make an appointment with my derm, just to make sure everything checks out.

EMBRACE THE PALE, LADIES.
(or, if not, um, I can really vouch for Famous Dave’s Self-Tanner.)
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19 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I’ve never heard of famous dave’s. do tell!

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20 Jenny February 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I bought mine on Amazon… Okay, yes, it’s a little pricey, but HERE’S WHY IT’S AWESOME –
1) It smells the LEAST of the self-tanners/gradual self-tanners (they ALL smell. but this one smells the least)
2) Dries, oh-so-quickly.
3) I am PALE. Like Eastern-European TO THE MAX, pale. And this turns my skin the most natural, even bronze color.
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21 Carolyn @HealthKitten.com February 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I’m definitely pinning this!

I’ve also never gone to a dermatologist…and at 39, I probably should! Glad you’re on the mend…
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22 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife February 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Will pin!! Great idea–and very good (graphic ) photo to make a point!!
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23 Marcy February 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I am a new(ish…since you guest posted at PB Fingers) reader and your story changed my tune! I am planning a trip to the Carribean in 2 weeks and decided to go for a spray tan as opposed to tanning beds!

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24 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I’m so glad you did! take me with you to the Caribbean? :)

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25 janae@hungryrunnergirl.com February 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I am so happy your stitches are out. Thank you for doing such a great job at spreading awareness…you are amazing!

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26 Shannon February 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Holy moly, those pictures are super intense. Thank you for posting this!
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27 Amanda February 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I wrote this post a few months ago to spread awareness about skin cancer: http://ajigreer.blogspot.com/2011/10/dear-16-year-old-me.html

So many people I know go to tanning beds, do not wear sunscreen, and appear not to be aware of the dangers. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

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28 Mary Kate February 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I had the same thing happen to me over the summer. I was an avid tanner throughout high school and I was one of those girls who thought it would never happen to me. I got checked over the summer and had to malignant melanoma moles removed from my back. I have to have three more removed soon. My scars are so similar to the ones you have. I would love to send my pictures via Facebook to show all of the girls who post statuses about tanning at the tanning bed. It’s a very scary thing once it happens to you.

Keep spreading the word and I hope they don’t find any more spots!!!

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29 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

yes!! pleaseee do. we’ve gotta spread the word!

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30 Jenn's Adventures February 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm

scared the bajeezus outta me girl — one more reason I’m happy to be in Seattle. Although, I’ve never had to take Vitamin D3 supps before, I’m happy to!!

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31 cait February 24, 2012 at 12:28 am

thats my girl and wowwww that def scared me so i wont be going to a tanning bed anymore :) glad you’re able to bend like a twisty bobcat haha. stay positive my love!
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32 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm

yes! spray tan for wedding day, my dear. :)

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33 Bess @ Bess Be Fit February 24, 2012 at 2:07 am

I’m definitely going to pin it right now! I am glad you are okay and it’s def a great message to send so I’m on board with ya.
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34 ebs February 24, 2012 at 6:34 am

Thank you SO much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but your story has made me open my eyes. It’s different when you hear about someone actually getting cancer… it makes it real. I have used tanning beds off and on because I am a fair skinned individual and I don’t tan too easily. I’ve never really stopped to think about the possible consequenses, at least not seriously. I have a lot of freckles and I freckle even more when I tan. I was planning on going tanning tonight, then I came across this post on Pinterest. Having read it, I am no longer going to use the tanning salons and have in fact just returned from the store where I purchased myself some Jergens Natural Glow Express. I figure I’d rather try a sunless tanner than risk my life in a tanning bed. I am so sorry that something like this has happenend to you. What you are doing with your experience is so great.. reaching out to others and trying to spread awareness. It really is appreciated and respected by many! I will continue to follow your posts… thank you so much:)

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35 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm

YES! the Jergens is the bomb. :)

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36 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) February 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

Hey scar twin, good for you for spreading the word! I should do the same with my… oh, you know, 14+ scars. :)
They just discovered another melanoma on my dad last week (it had been 10 years since his first one). Luckily they caught it quickly and cut that bi-a out.
SCREW YOU skin cancer.
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37 Aubrey February 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi Alyssa-

I have been a blog lurker for awhile- but this is the first time I have commented. I wanted to thank you for sharing your story- you inpired me to finally go and get checked by a dermatologist. Both my husband and I are gonig today. Unfortunately, skin cancer runs in my family. My uncle passed away in his early 50′s after melanoma spread causing a brain tumor. Watch what he went through was terrible. However, somehow, that did not scare me enough to stay away from a tanning bed before my December 11′ wedding. Your story has really hit home and finally “scared” me enough to get checked. I think having someone my age go through this makes it so much more real. I really applaude you sharing your story and spreading awareness. If your scar pictures don’t scare peeople enough, I have some very moving pictures of what happens when it spreads and gets worse- no one wants to go through that! Thank you very much for sharing!!! You have impacted me to make changes!!!

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38 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I’m SO glad, Aubrey! I hope all goes well at your appointment!

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39 Di February 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I tweeted this post. Skin cancer is scary! My dad has, in the past 10 years, had a couple of spots removed. They said it could’ve developed from when he was a kid and was outside without sunscreen on! He’s pretty obsessive about sunscreen and hats (he’s bald) whenever he’s outside. It isn’t worth the risk.

About 5 years ago, I went to the dermatologist because of a bump on my arm that came out of nowhere. I got lucky. It’s a non-cancerous fibroma (removing it would be elective surgery). I’ve been obsessive about sunscreen ever since. I put it on every 30-45 minutes at the beach. I’m terrified of burning. This post reminded me that I should make an appointment with the dermatologist to have my entire body checked again, though. Better safe than sorry, right?
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40 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I’ve had fibromas before! they’re such a pain.

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41 lory February 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

scheduled an appointment next month! my mom has had spots removed in the past and i have fair skin. i’ve had intentions of scheduling an appt for a long time just never got around to actually doing it. appreciate the motivation! :)

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42 kristen @ livinlifeinlouie February 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I was just talkinga bout your story today at work! We were saying how we used to go tanning all the time in college because of the “student special”. And how bad it is for you (know that we have grown up a bit!)
I love that even though this situation sucks, that you are trying to spread that word that it can happen to ANYONE!

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43 what katie's baking February 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

i’m SO glad you posted this. nobody listens to me, but when you’re right here giving hard evidence, it’s almost impossible to turn the other way.
ahh you’re awesome!

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44 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health February 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Totally love this post! I think it’s awesome that you want to help spread skin cancer awareness. My grandma was just diagnosed with melanoma, but like you they thankfully caught it early! I just had a dermatology appointment today and they took a mole off to biopsy it. Let’s hope everything comes out okay!
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45 Brittany @ LessBritt MoreLife February 25, 2012 at 1:21 am

So proud of you, pretty girl! Let’s spread the knowledge and awareness! I used to sunburn just being outside without or with sunscreen! Well until i found this amazing dermatologist recommended sunscreen made in Australia! Does wonders! Love you!
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46 Sasha February 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

HI! So I just found you on Instagram and decided to check out your blog. I know that God brought me here because I have been tanning for 5 YEARS of my life. I worked in a tanning salon for 3.5 years and tanned before that. In fact, I was about to buy a tanning package to get some color before Spring Break. Instead, I’m going to the dermatologist to get a check-up. Thank you so much.

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47 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Sasha, I’m so glad! Let me know how it goes. No more tanning – just spray tans! :)

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48 Chelsea March 1, 2012 at 3:19 am

Hi Alyssa! I have been reading your blog for a while but this is my first time commenting. When I heard about your story it immediately made something click for me. I have been wanting to go an get my skin checked for a while now but kept putting it off. I was in the middle of reading your post when I grabbed my phone and made an appointment. Thankfully everything looked normal, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your story and spreading awareness! I definitely am going to be more careful in the sun and go for routine checks in the future :)

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49 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Chelsea, I’m really happy to hear that. And thank you so much for letting me know!

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50 Jer Marie April 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

Pinned it!!!!!!!!!!! We are very much thankful for your effort to reminding us to take care of ourselves…………. ; -)
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51 Chelsea Franklin March 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Hey there, I know this post is about a year old, but I was on Google searching “How to spread tanning awareness” when your blog came up. I am looking for a way to spread the word in my community because I know many young girls in my town who go in tanning beds constantly, even all winter. I have 3 scars similar to yours; one two-inch scar on my back, another two-inch near my hip, and a half-inch one on my shoulder. My dermatologist was worried about them, but luckily they all came back negative. I still have these HUGE scars though! I am now trying to spread awareness to the younger girls in my community. Any suggestions on how to do so? I am not sure where to start!

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52 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Chelsea, that’s a great idea. I’m so glad you’re interested in spreading awareness. :)

To be honest, I feel like the internet is the most powerful tool there is. Other than that, I would share your scars with people and talk about my story (or any others you know of). People don’t really get scared until they SEE or hear firsthand how serious this can really be. I honestly wish I could picket outside of every tanning salon I see. Maybe flyers are a bit much, but I feel like if it can save a life… is anything too much?

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53 henry June 27, 2014 at 2:05 pm

people of light complexion should not go tanning but for some reason they want a tan.
it is better safe with sun protection than sorry with skin cancer.
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