My Gold Medal Tan, A Warrior’s Fight.
It all started with what I thought was a patch of eczema behind my knee. Slightly itchy, red and a little bit scaly. At the time I was competing with NANBF. (North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation.) I assumed this patch was from working out and dismissed it. I tried a few creams. I tried to ignore it. Before I knew it, three (maybe more) years sped by and I realized no matter what I tried, this “patch” behind my knee wasn't going away.
I flashed back to a conversation I had with a parent at my son's baseball game. During our casual bleacher “confessional,” I told her all about my sun worshiping and tanning bed habit. My dedication to fitness and competing in NANBF resulted in my tanned skin obsession. On the circuit, our motto was "If you can't tone it, tan it!" After hearing this, she suggested I have a baseline skin check done.
She's a Dermatologist.
I put my stubbornness and denial in check and called my doctor.
My 1st Appointment:
- Full Body Assessment.
- Two biopsies. (One on my arm and other behind my knee.
The dermatologist prescribed a chemical cream for my décolletage, which I applied daily for one week. I watched my skin peel and anxiously waited for my biopsy results.
One Week Later:
My biopsies revealed basal and squamous cancer cells.
Two Months Later:
Skin Removal Day with my Dermatologist.
- My arm was scrapped by the doctor. (A razor blade was used to remove my spot.)
- Skin samples were taken from behind my knee and immediately reviewed under a microscope. I waited on the exam table in my gown for results. My skin was continuously sampled until the microscope reveled my “patch” was cleared of skin cancer.
This is called Mohs Surgery.
Skin Removal Day Summary:
- 1" X 1 1/2" x 1/4" piece of my skin was taken from behind my knee.
- I left with 30+ new stitches and a NEW love for sun protection.
- The picture you see is my "trophy" for not being able to workout for two weeks. It also serves as a reminder of my unprotected days in the sun.
I visit my dermatologist every six months. I am still committed to my daily workouts and I still love being outdoors. No more intentional sun "tanning," but I can still live actively outside with proper sunscreen and UPF clothing.
I'm grateful this type of cancer is easily managed and treatable when caught early. Take it from me, visit your dermatologist at least annually! Being proactive is key! Today we know so much more about the importance of sun protection as skin cancer prevention. We can educate and help each other by sharing our stories. Together we can put an end to skin cancer by elevating awareness.
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