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Kate’s personal story

Kate Eckman
Like many people, I love the sun, the beach, and being outdoors. It feels good to lie out and be warmed by the sun and have it tan our skin.   As a teen, I never thought basking in the sun and bronzing my skin could be so destructive, so ugly. I'm kicking myself now because I know better. But as a younger person and as a teenager, it was all about just being tan, and that meant not always wearing sunscreen. I was stupid, and I admit that.    My countless hours in the sun, sometimes unprotected, caught up with me, but I didn't even realize it. 

I had this red mark on my forehead and I just thought it was nothing. I was home over Thanksgiving with my family and had no makeup on. My brother, who's a doctor, said, "What is that on your forehead?" And he's examining me like doctors do. He said, "I think you have skin cancer." I said, "I don't have skin cancer."   I went to a dermatologist to find out for sure. They took a biopsy and a week later they called me, and sure enough I had skin cancer.   A week later, my dermatologist performed Mohs surgery to remove the cancer. It was imperative I got it taken care of right away, because the cancer could have spread to my nerves and lymph nodes.  I couldn't believe I had skin cancer. I thought that just happened to people who are much, much older than me. Having my head sliced open and having cancer taken out of my face...I wasn't prepared for it.   Let me be your lesson. Don't wait until you have skin cancer before you say, "Oh I need to protect myself, I'll wear sunblock." Do it now.   I  may not love the scar on my forehead, but it keeps me in check. Every day I look in the mirror, and it's a reminder to put that sunscreen on.