Teresa's story

I am a 49-year-old skin cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with my first squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) on my forehead and the bridge of my nose when I was 42 years old. I grew up on a farm in Kentucky. Farming was a way of life. Using sunblock was not. I spent hours in the sun on a daily basis, not knowing the damage that was being done to my skin. 

In my 20s and early 30s, I also used to frequent tanning beds. I never gave a thought to any sun protection or sunblock until I developed a scaly area on my forehead and nose. They were small at first, not painful, and I chalked them up to age spots and did not seek treatment. When they began to grow rapidly, I made an appointment with a dermatologist. 

Even before the lab's confirmation, she felt certain they were skin cancer. I was shocked and scared. Initially, I was asked to use a topical medication. The lesions went away but quickly came back. They required surgery to remove them. 

The best news ever was to hear, "The borders are clear." In November 2011, I again developed a SCC on my forehead. Again, I went through surgical removal. I realized my battle was going to be life-long all because in my younger years no one had told me about skin protection. Prevention and early detection are key!

As an adult, I thought that would never happen to me. I looked great with a tan and I had healthy skin. In May 2012, I had to have part of my left ear removed due to another SCC. I look at myself in the mirror and know that this could have been prevented. Prevention and early detection are key! I strongly feel that we should educate and protect our children from birth. Share with them how to protect their skin and set good examples. Make sunblock a part of your daily regimen.

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