Leanne’s PSA–I’ve had skin cancer

I’ve had skin cancer removed twice, and I’m not a sun worshipper.

My family has a history of skin that doesn’t do well in the sun. There are three major kinds of skin cancer: basal, squamous and melanoma. Mine was squamous, which has a potential to metastasize. Mine did not. My symptoms included a spot that itched and bled and scabbed and covered over, then repeated the sequence. I watched the first time my dermatologist removed the cone-shaped wedge of flesh. The second time, I didn’t. But I caught the second one much sooner.

When I was a kid in Roanoke, Virginia, I couldn’t wait for summer. My mom started working outside the home when I was in the fourth grade, but my parents made sure I was water safe at a very young age.  Girl-swimming-underwaterAs soon as summer hit, I mounted my bike and headed for the community pool where I took advanced swimming lessons, did flips and stood on my hands underwater, played Marco Polo and when I was water-logged, Four Square. It took me a long time to be any good at that game. There was no effective sunscreen when I was growing up and I couldn’t have been less interested in sitting in the shade. My family also visited the beach every year. Again, no effective sunscreen available.

My dermatologist said my skin damage had probably occurred during my first twenty years. So, I guess that ship has sailed. Now, I need to protect myself as much as I can (and still enjoy life).

So here are some things I do:

I put sunscreen on in the bathroom when I’m naked. Yup. If I take a shower, I slather it on as soon as I dry myself off. That way, I’m covered and there are no places left uncovered. I like to use 50spf or better. Titanian dioxide and CLEAR Zinc Oxide are great. I’ve given up on tanning because: I DON’T TAN. I SPOT.

There are also new body lotions that contain SPF.  Unfortunately, you can get sun damage even while driving!

I found a hat that I love. I don’t really love ball caps, but I got a western hat during my visit to the Grand Canyon. It has a cord that keeps it from flying off my head and it doesn’t flatten my hair. YAY! So find yourself a hat you like and you’ll be more likely to wear it.

Shade is a good thing. Funny thing on the cruise I took with my fam, the twenty-somethings were all seeking the shade. I was pleased to observe that. There’s more than one way to get some shade. Here’s a cool new umbrella/shade you can fasten to your chair!beach_chair_umbrella

Get your skin checked by a dermatologist.

If you must tan, fake it. You can get spray tans these days to make you look tan. You can also use daily tanning lotion. Some of it even has SPF. You can also put on bronzer.

Clothing. Here is a website with clothing that can block out the rays.  http://www.sunprecautions.com/

9780373656806 (1)So that’s my PSA.  Take care of your skin.  I’m also very excited to announce that my new book, THE PRINCESS AND THE OUTLAW is out now!  I hope you’ll check it out.  This is a very special book to me!<3  You can take a peek at it here!  http://tinyurl.com/7eo7gl5

And my question for you is What are your tips for protecting your skin from the sun?



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10 Responses to Leanne’s PSA–I’ve had skin cancer

  1. I’ve started being more conscious of my skin, too, Leanne. I used to be a major sun worshiper, and like you, I spent my days as a kid at the town swim club. My parents didn’t even belong, they just got memberships for my brother and me, and we’d ride our bikes over and spend all day
    there. I’m a real water baby. Since I live five minutes from the shore, I spend a fair amount of time there.

    I do tan…but I also spot. I’ve taken to spending my time at the beach in the shade, under a big beach umbrella. I also put on sunscreen when I’m going to be out gardening, although I do have to get better about it for those trips in the car with the top down (I drive a convertible). My skin’s not terrible, but it’s not great, either. I try to impress upon my kids the importance of sunscreen, and I think they get it. We’re going to Costa Rica in September, and I plan to buy some of that tropical, sunscreen-built-in clothing for our trip. I burned really badly on our honeymoon to St. John, and I don’t want that to ever happen again. Ouch!

    Thanks for posting something so important (and your “confession”). Hopefully, those of us who have avoided the big “C” can learn from your experience.


    • leannebanks says:

      Jaye, thanks for your wonderful comments! I think I would have been more of a sun worshipper if I could have been successful!lol But I just really never got much of a tan. Living near the ocean would make it harder for me. I love sitting and walking on the beach! Good luck with the Costa Rica trip! I’ve wanted to go there! So I’ll want to hear all about it.:) xo, Leanne

  2. Kylie Brant says:

    I’m in the too-little-too-late group…like you said, there was no sunblock when I was a kid. I remember when Coppertone came out but it was a tan enhancer, not protection. Unlike you, I was a sun worshipper until fairly recently. I turn absolutely dark brown from the sun which looks awesome. The spots I’m left with when the sun fades looks not so awesome 😦 I’ve had a skin cancer taken off my arm (squamosh) and go back for regular checks. Usually I make him freeze some not cancerous spots just because they’re ugly 🙂

    We go tropical every year and still love the beach. But I get a spray tan before I go, put 100 SPF on my face and 50 on my body. I find that I still tan with a 30 SPF sunscreen. I figure at this point it’s all I can do.

    Congrats on your new book!

    • leannebanks says:

      Kylie, you do look gorgeous tanned. I always assumed you had a great dark complexion. The only thing I do NOT like about the spray tan is it can wear off more easily in the water or hot tub. Who wants to avoid the hot tub for fear of losing a tan!:) Thanks for the congrats on my book!:) xo, Leanne

  3. superauntkx9 says:

    I have an aunt who sufferes from skin cancers.. I say it is all those years of living in Florida and not using enough protection. I am very fair. I have had some really bad burns over my lifetime, but I have never,touch would suffered from skin cancer. I have psorasis pretty bad, but I am under a specialist care, and take some pretty strong medicine for it. So I see my skin specialist at least 4 times a year. So he would spot these right away… It’s SPF 60 or more for me when I am in the sun…

    • leannebanks says:

      Super Aunt, I would imagine it would be hard to avoid the sun in Florida. They have great weather and beautiful beaches. All those outdoor activities would be so tempting! I’m very fair too. I’m sorry about your psoriasis. I’ve heard that’s no fun! Thanks for popping in! xo, Leanne

  4. Thanks SO much for this, Leanne. I always try to remember to ask about skin concerns whenever I see the doctor, but your story tells me that maybe I need to go in just for that reason–strip down and do an all-over how-about-this? I’ve never been a sun worshiper, but, let’s face it, as kids we love outdoor activities and don’t think anything of staying in the pool until last call. And then there’s my love of horseback riding.

    Oddly enough, living in North Dakota (quite a few years ago now, but it was prime time) is more of a skin hazard than most other places. Didn’t know that until the kids’ piano teacher went in for her “regular” skin cancer removal. She said the incidence in ND is really high because it’s the sunniest state in the union. Surprised? And this time of the year the sunlight hours are really long–that’s *North* Dakota. But it’s really sunny in winter, too–if Montana is Big Sky country, ND is Clear Sky land–and reflection off the snow is woefully underestimated.

    • leannebanks says:

      Kathleen, I would have NEVER thought that living in ND was such a skin hazard. When I think of North Dakota, I think of COLD, not sun. You bring up an excellent point. THANKS! And yes, I now get a head-to-toe check every 6 months. xo, Leanne

  5. Cindy Gerard says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Leanne and I’m glad you’ve got your bases covered. I had a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my forehead a few years ago – it was a little scary – so now I’m MUCH more careful about my sun exposure – and I’m one of those who tan easily and rarely burn so it can happen to anyone!

  6. C-Jay M says:

    Nice blog. I’ve always been fair-skinned so burned first, then tanned later. We used to use baby oil to ‘help us tan’ – ha! I have pre-cancerous moles, so make sure I see my dermatologist every year for check-ups. My daughter is the same. My dh’s father had skin cancer from working outside, so we’re all more aware. I now spend more time indoors – reading! 🙂

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