Despite watching me go through not one but two bouts of skin cancer, (right on my face, no less,) some of my idiot pals are still sitting in the sun! They justify it with very stupid rationalizations, such as, “Skin cancers can just be removed. No biggie.”

Hugh Jackman, always willing to share his skin cancer woes, to help others.

Hugh Jackman, always willing to share his skin cancer woes, to help others.

Well, let me remind you all—skin cancer is definitely “a biggie!!!” If you don’t believe me, just ask Hugh Jackman. Or Ewan McGregor. Or Bob Marley—oh that’s right—you can’t—because…he died from it! At just thirty-six-years-old! (His started-out under a toenail.)

And it always looks to me like Jennifer Lopez had a cancer on her nose, as well, although that’s just conjecture on my part. Even though she’s had a few obvious nose jobs, the way the top of the bridge is so flat looks to me like that area on people who’ve been known to have at least one skin cancer removed from that spot.

To me, the face is the worst place to get skin cancer, *for obvious reasons, but everywhere is bad. Everyone really needs to have annual full-body cancer checks. (*When I got the first one, right on the side of my nose, I was still doing my television show. I waited a very long week to hear back from my doctor after my biopsy, and I finally called him early one morning, so he couldn’t avoid me any longer. When I asked why he had waited so long to break the news to me, he replied, “You’re on TV, and the cancer is on your face. It’s not like it’s on your back or some other hidden area. I didn’t want to upset you.” Was he kidding me?! I was going to be upset no matter when I found-out, and the sooner would have definitely been the better!)

I’ll tell you more of my own horror stories in a second, but first, lets’s discuss all aspects of this important day.

Always use sunscreen!

Always use sunscreen!

First of all, it’s National Sunscreen Day. And let me admonish—you are a moron if you do not wear sunscreen every day!!! It’s so easy to do. Yes, it does take an extra minute out of your day, but it’s to prevent skin cancer taking every future minute out of your life! That’s a no-brainer, in my book.

I do know that some of the sunscreens on offer are pretty thick. Or too white. So just experiment (with samples, of course,) until you find one you can live with. Emphasis on live (because it just may be keeping you alive!)

Doctors and facialists recommend wearing sunscreen even indoors; the sun comes through windows and even door cracks. You can never be too safe. For all the sunscreen rules, courtesy of Prevention Magazine, just click here: (You don’t need to read the entire long article; just scroll down till you see the heading, The new sunscreen rules.)

That’s the aspect of the day; now let’s talk about the components of this national month.

What my forehead looked like before the surgery.  That tiny red spot in the lower middle was the cancer!  Wow.  Photo by Mr. X.

What my forehead looked like before the surgery. That tiny red spot in the lower middle was the cancer! Wow. Photo by Mr. X.

First up is detection of skin cancer. You should always be aware of what’s happening with your skin, (and your entire body. And mind! But maybe we’ll discuss that in a day or week or month dedicated to mental health.) If you get a new spot, or one darkens, enlarges, or gets raised, it’s time to see a doctor. You really never know what tiny spot is dangerous. (My story in a sec.) Don’t think you can wait, or that he or she will think you’re being overcautious if it turns-out to be nothing. If that’s the case, the doc will celebrate right along with you. Some facialists are able to spot trouble, as well. Listen to those people!

But the absolute most important thing you can do in the skin cancer arena is prevention. And take it from a two-time survivor—you want to prevent it at all costs!

Which brings us full circle to the sunscreen that we celebrate today. Use it!

Now, the quick tales of my two skin cancers, in case they help motivate you to get checked.

First is that one on my nose I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. It was a tiny spot that bled from time to time. My dermatologist finally decided to biopsy it. (And, of course, I met Adam Lambert the day I found-out I had skin cancer, and with the bandage on my nose! But it did not phase him at all, even though we wound-up talking for about a half hour. This was years before he was on American Idol, but that’s all another story, for my book.)

Doesn't that middle-to-upper part of JLo's nose look like she's had some not-fun surgery on it?

Doesn’t that middle-to-upper part of JLo’s nose look like she’s had some not-fun surgery on it?

When I was scheduling the Mohs surgery to remove the cancer, I was even smart enough to suggest that I should have a plastic surgeon in the room with me, to make sure the scar wouldn’t be too bad. Here’s a majorly important note to all of you who are having a cancer removed anywhere the scar will be seen: If a plastic surgeon is not doing your surgery, make sure you have one there!!! I made the mistake of letting my derm tell me it was unnecessary, and then his partner, who did the surgery, absolutely butchered me! I’ve been living with a horrible, big, bright white scar, and major indentation, on my nose since then! And there’s not much any other surgeon can do at this point to correct the matter. It’s so annoying, but I always remind myself that I have the boyfriend and life I want, and I looked great in my heyday; two major victories. So I just deal with the bad visual.

Which brings us to my second skin cancer. I received a gift certificate from Marc Edwards Skincare in West Hollywood two years ago, and went to see him for just a basic facial. Right away, he noticed the tiniest dot on my forehead, and a little bit bigger one on my collarbone, and asked, “What’s up with these?” I told him they were nothing, and to not worry about them. I could barely even see the one on my forehead. But he made me promise to see my dermatologist that week, and since I try to never lie, (unless someone asks me if she’s fat!,) I had to do it. And, lo and behold, that tiny upper dot was, indeed, a skin caner.

The perfect tiny scar, right in the middle of my forehead!  Photo by Mr. X.

The perfect tiny scar, right in the middle of my forehead! Photo by Mr. X.

The doc who had done the last one had since passed away, not that I would have ever gone to him again, anyway. But let me remind you again—if ever you have the need, go to a Mohs surgeon who’s also a plastic surgeon. My derm tried to get me to let him just do it, but that would be crazy—he would have had to send the specimen to the lab, and if it came back that he didn’t get it all, I would have had to go back again. (In Mohs, they go down one layer at a time, look under the microscope, and if they didn’t get it all, they go down another layer right on the spot! And they keep going if necessary.)

So, I went to the perfect guy, in Santa Monica, and my loooong scar (a dozen stitches, just for that minuscule dot,) is barely even visible now!

So, that’s all what to do if you get diagnosed with skin cancer.

But let me remind you what today and this month are all about—detecting skin cancer and, more importantly, preventing it—with sunscreen, for goodness sake!

So, if you need something to “celebrate” right now, (and don’t we all?,) please celebrate National Sunscreen Day and Melonona/Skin Cancer Detection Prevention Month. And then continue to do these suggestions for the rest of your, what I hope will be long, lives.


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