Erica's story

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I had three squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) removed over the course of one year when I was 19 years old. All three were on my face and required Mohs surgery and plastic reconstructive surgery. I have always worn sunscreen when spending time outside and never tried to tan. I never even set foot inside a tanning salon! Anybody can get skin cancer, especially those of us who grew up in Florida and Arizona and have very fair skin that freckles easily. 

I go every eight weeks to get new precancerous lesions frozen off and will be undergoing photodynamic therapy (PDT) in two weeks to prevent any more skin cancers from cropping up. 

It has been 11 months since I had my last surgery, but the fear never goes away. Every time I look in the mirror and see a small blemish (that is probably only a pimple or dry skin) I think its cancer. I can’t talk myself out of it, because it has been cancer three times before.

I have always worn sunscreen when spending time outside and never tried to tan.

So my message is this: Please, please have a dermatologist check out anything that seems to be changing on your skin. Never in a million years did I think I would have skin cancer. I had shown the spot to several people and mentioned that it seemed to be changing, but everyone seemed to think it was fine. 

But here’s the thing: SKIN CANCER CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE. Even when they took that first biopsy, I thought it was precautionary. When I got the first call saying I had SCC, I was shocked. That first SCC had been there for years and it wasn’t until it had become bad enough that it started to bleed did I go in. 

I wish I had gone in sooner because the surgeon would have had to remove a lot less skin. I have a phenomenal plastic surgeon so I have only faint scars, but the fear of developing new SCCs will always be there. 

Even if someone tells you it’s nothing (even if it is a doctor), you know your body best. You may not have any medical training, but you do know you. So find a dermatologist you trust and get your skin checked! Nobody can afford to wait.

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