The risk factors for skin cancer are numerous. Real patients discuss their specific risk factors.
Before being diagnosed with skin cancer, I didn’t consider myself unusually high risk. I do have several moles and what not. And I keep an eye on them and I have had some removed before, some for cosmetic reasons and others just [out of] concern. But nothing ever came back positive until this time.
I figured that I might be susceptible to skin cancer. But you know what? It didn’t stop me; it did not stop me. I was out in the sun as much as possible. I would put sunscreen on my nose. But I would still try to get really tan.
I did spend a lot of time in the sun as a child and throughout my military career. I grew up in Texas. We had a swimming pool in the back yard, spent summers out there. Did use sunscreen, not religiously, but fairly often.
Not very many of us had used sunscreen at all when I was in Vietnam. They advised it, but we just wanted that tan that came with the hot sun.
Of course back then when I was younger, they weren’t preaching as heavily as they are today the risks associated with sun exposure.
We tended to get ourselves fried once every three or four years. And those things catch up with you. So I was aware that I was potentially at risk for it, but I really didn’t think it was going to happen to me.
Before I was diagnosed, I’ve always kind of known that I was high risk. I seemed to have like a lot of moles and stuff that we’ve always checked throughout my life.
There’s a history of skin cancer in my family because my father also had melanoma.
My sister did have some basal cell tissue removed from her nose two or three years ago. But other than that, no reason to suspect I was at a higher risk.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, I’m the first person in my family to have a melanoma.
Now the doctors have told me that I’m at high risk for the rest of my life to get melanoma again. And so to prevent that, I need to make sure that I wear proper sun protection, like sunscreen and hats and sunglasses, and just try to stay out of the sun as much as I can.