my skin + the sun

i have a fear of coming across as dramatic. if you think any of this post is dramatic, please don’t tell me. i’m actually sharing personal stuff, which never happens on here.


generally speaking, i’d say that because i’m a fair skinned woman, i’m more meticulous than most when it comes to wearing sunscreen. even still, sometimes there are days or weeks that i don’t wear it. most of the time it’s because i forget, but sometimes i just choose not to because it’s a hassle. so, not surprisingly, in the past few years, i’ve had a couple precancerous (has the potential to turn cancerous) areas of skin frozen off.

last month i actually had a biopsy done on some suspicious looking skin on my scalp. when my doctor called me two days later, i knew why she was calling. i sat in the supply room and listened to her tell me what i already knew. i had basal cell carcinoma, aka, skin cancer.

the conversation was short. i didn’t really know what to think or how to feel so i just avoided figuring it out and acted like it was no big deal.

the next week i went to my regularly scheduled counseling session, during which i had to stop avoiding and start processing. so…i stopped downplaying it and thinking things like, “it’s just skin cancer…it not cancer cancer.” the fact is, though, cancer is cancer. some, when caught early, are easy to cure (like basal cell carcinoma). others are impossible to cure. all cancer is not created equal, but all cancer is still cancer and no one wants it.

during the same session, i realized that, in addition to feeling lucky and thankful that my skin cancer was caught early and could be cured by a simple procedure, i felt worried and mad. my doctor told me i’m really young to already have skin cancer. so basically, i’m worried that my battle with skin cancer is just beginning. at the risk of sounding like a child, i’m mad because it’s not fair! there’s nothing i could have done to prevent this because i can’t slather my scalp with sunscreen, which just makes me feel like giving up on wearing it all together because it seems like if i’m going to get skin cancer, i’m just going to get it. i probably already have it brewing in a dozen other places. also, i’m mad because cancer is an asshole*. i mean, it really is.

now, as i write this a little over a month after my diagnosis and a couple weeks after becoming cancer free, i still feel lucky and thankful. i still feel worried, but not really mad. mostly i just have a feeling of reconciliation. i have fair skin and i can’t do anything about it. all i can do is hoard bottles and bottles of broad spectrum SPF.

i only have one more thing to say and it’s mainly to myself: i’ve witnessed the horrendous things cancer is capable of (hence the name calling) and i’m 100% aware and grateful that, in the grand scheme of cancer, my experience was extremely uncomplicated, but it still sucked to find out i had skin cancer and being upset about it was appropriate and justified.

anyway, for now i’m cancer free and trying my darnedest to protect myself against the sun, my arch-nemesis. ugh.

*sorry about the language, but you know it’s true.



  1. amy · July 30, 2013

    lovie dovies!

  2. caseypatton · July 30, 2013

    i’m so glad you’re okay! I LOVE YOU!!!!

  3. magan318 · July 30, 2013

    Cancer IS an ass hole. And I don’t apologize for my language… or for the globs of sunscreen I too feel the need to wear as a fellow pale-skinned redhead. My daily application serves only my face (& neck-ish) unless I foresee a prolonged outdoor experience, then the #2 location I choose to slather the SPF is my chest/shoulders. I’m glad you’re cancer free!
    PS. If you’re looking for a product recommendation, I love my Peter Thomas Roth

    • sheena · July 31, 2013

      good for you wearing your sunscreen! 🙂
      thanks for the recommendation! i’ll check it out!

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