Sucking out all your creativity with one word: Cancer

Sorry, I know you are all expecting my normal Monday night Manuscript Red-line post, but I really felt like I needed to stray away from writing… just this once.

A year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma.  It is a malignant form of skin cancer.  I was not surprised.  I had a cut on my ear that bled for a year straight while I was in denial.  My cell could not be treated with creams or freezing.  I needed to go through Mohs surgery.

In a Mohs procedure, the surgeon removes a layer of skin from the malignant area and tests it.  If it comes out cancerous, they take another layer and test it.  This could go on for hours, and you don’t know how many “cuts” you will need until it is all over.

Luckily enough, thanks to a very talented surgeon, I only went through one round of surgery, and was cured. And there was virtually no scar.

I prayed that this would be the end of it.  Until today.

Another “thing” popped up on my arm a month ago, and two weeks ago my doctor took a biopsy.  Today they confirmed it was malignant, and I will need surgery again.

I had a good cry.  Not because I was afraid of the surgery, but because I realized that I would be battling this for the rest of my life.

When I was growing up, no one even heard anything about skin cancer.  We never wore sunscreen.  I would lie out in the sun with the INTENTION of getting a sunburn.  One day of pain was worth it for the pretty glow I got for a week after.  If I only knew.

I am not telling you this to make you feel bad, or to share my pain.

The truth is, I am wired to teach people.  That is how this blog got started.  I thought it over, and if I can stop one person from going through what I will be battling for the rest of my life, then at least I am even.  If I can help two people, it would be great.  If I can help three… then it will all be worth while.

Please Please Please wear sunscreen when you go outside.  If you can sit in the shade, please do so.  I’ve been doing it for a year.  It can be done.

If you have children, please slather them with sunscreen, and give them hats.  Remember the backs of their ears.  That is where my first carcinoma appeared.

Please take skin cancer seriously.  It always happens to the other guy, until a doctor calls to give you the bad news.

Feeling better now.


42 responses to “Sucking out all your creativity with one word: Cancer

  1. Keep up your spirits, but today in the news they said that even thought your sunscreen says that it’s waterproof, it’s not. Lather up every two hours. Good luck.

  2. “When I was growing up, no one even heard anything about skin cancer. We never wore sunscreen.”<<THIS! Exactly this! When I went in for the results, the doc told me to stay out of the sun. I said: I'm never in the sun. To which he responded: what about when you were younger?
    There was NO education on the harmfulness of the sun when we were growing up. At least our children are in an era where there is. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Cancer leaves Scars that you Cannot See | Jennifer M Eaton

  4. Hi Jennifer, your RSS feed doesn’t appear to be working. I clicked on it to subscribe but all I got was a page of html code. Wanted to let you know.

  5. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer. I have never faced that situation, and it sounds truly terrifying. Your composure in the face of it is admirable, but I’d be willing to be you learned and grew a lot through your first experience.

    I’m on your blog because I saw that you subscribed to mine — thank you! So I wanted to come see what you are about. I will take a good run through and check out what you are doing here…

  6. I’m sorry to hear about your news. I hope this is the last of it. I grew up with burns, too, and my dad keeps having (mostly) benign spots removed from his years of not being careful in the sun. Your news is very scary, and I hope this next surgery is the last you hear of the word cancer.

  7. Thanks for the poignant reminder. I did like you too, purposely slathering myself with baby oil to burn really good in the Vegas Heat so that I’d have a good start of a tan for the summer. Dumb. But we truly didn’t know back then. My heart is with you in your battle. Fight on, girl!

  8. Wow, and wow again. I blog about Cancer too( and life in between LOL) ….and your post just struck a cord with me. Thanks so much for sharing….
    P.s. You have a beautiful WAY with words.
    Big fat hugs to you….
    Lynne xx

  9. I’m really sorry to hear of all the stress and trouble you’ve been put through with all this. I hope this time is the last you have to deal with it; I’ve been through my own drawn-out medical dramas so I know how draining it is. I’m guilty of being lazy with sunscreen, especially if I’m only going out for a short hike to walk the dogs. I appreciate the reminder, and I hope your message gets through to many others, too.

  10. Sending positive thoughts and vibes your way! Please keep us up to date as you go through the surgery again. Wishes for a safe recovery.

  11. wow – sending lots of positive vibes your way!! sounds like you have an excellent doctor who is going to take great care of you.

    i had a small scare last week after seeing the skin doctor (dysplastic results on a mole, needs to be removed as a precaution). it seriously threw me off for a few hours – so your headline really caught my eye.

  12. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart (cliche, sorry) for all the warm wishes. Part of me really didn’t expect any response from this, because it is so personal.

    It means a lot that so many of you took a minute to say something… even people who’ve never been here before, which is very nice.

    The one thing you can do for me is believe in what I said, and remember it. The sun is a wonderful thing, but it is not your friend unless you protect yourself. Please be careful, and teach your kids to be careful.

    I little sunscreen is a lot easier than a surgeon’s knife.

  13. Jennifer, As usual you are so kind to share your experience with us. I wish you all the best in fighting this. Your reminders certainly hit home for me since I spend my days in the Bahamas. Take care.

  14. Hi Jennifer, I just typed up a response and think my computer ate it! Grrr.
    Anyway I was just saying thank you for sharing your personal experience and I wish you all the best in getting through this. I have actually been listening to Baz Luhrmann’s song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” quite often on my ipod of late, which is quite a weird coincidence. And for those of us who love a golden tan, hey we can fake it brilliantly these days with those nifty bottles of fake tan lotion 🙂

  15. Hi Jennifer, thank you for sharing this personal experience in your post. I wish you all the best in getting through this.
    It’s strange that I found this post today because for the last couple of weeks on my ipod I have been listening to Baz Luhrmann’s song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. And for all of us who want that great tan, remember it’s 2012! Fantastic fake tan lotions available everywhere 🙂

  16. I sympathize, having grown up at Wrightsville Beach, NC and having had a spot or few removed.

  17. I wish you all the best and hope you have a speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing your story and words of advice.
    Sara from

  18. Cancer sucks balls. It’s the most senseless, hateful disease and does not discriminate. Here’s to a speedy recovery from this round of surgery for you. I’ve shared this on my FB wall because it’s such a vital message – if it only changes one person’s view of lathering up in sunscreen then at least that’s one less person facing what you are.

  19. Marie Gilbert

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I will be praying for you. The good news is you’re keeping on top of this with frequent doctor’s visits. I had a squamous cell on my leg and now have to go every three months to be checked. Crazy when you think how we used baby oil to get that special tan. We were frying ourselves and didn’t even realize it. Keep strong

  20. Thank you so much for sharing your experience Jennifer. I found it quite powerful when you wrote:
    It always happens to the other guy, until a doctor calls to give you the bad news.
    Sooo true!! This post spoke volumes to me and I hope your experience will help enlighten and teach others. I’m a definite convert!

  21. Shelley Szajner

    I’m sorry to hear about this, Jennifer, and am sending healing light your way. Cancer is a scourge on this planet and although I’m not in the majority when I say this, but I do believe we already have a cure for cancer. I had an illness six years ago and it scared me so much that it sent me on a new direction with health and wellness. There is much that one can do to to heal their own bodies, and I’m living proof of this fact.

  22. Thank you for sharing your story, Jennifer! I will be thinking of you and your family!

  23. I hope it all gets better, my wife is notorius for turning as red as a lobster at least once a summer. AS to me, I try to remian covered.

  24. Thanks for posting a reminder that we cannot hear enough. I love to go to the beach and sit under the umbrella. Sometimes I do forget to reapply after that first time. It’s important. I wish you all the best in beating this instance quickly.

  25. Holding you close, girl. You’ve reminded us all not to abuse our bodies. Thank you. Consider the time it took for you to write this post well spent. xxoo

  26. Dear Jennifer,

    I am in tune with you re hindsight and sunburns as a child. We were nut brown after summer vacation and any suntan lotion we had back then was probably next to useless. My arms are full of pre-actinic keratosi(s) and I wear long sleeved shirts as a rule rather than the exception. Living in Hawaii for the past thirty-five years hasn’t helped but the trade off (peace for my soul0 has been worth the extra trouble.

    Be strong and clear in your intent to banish wayward cells in your body. You are in charge and they will listen.

    Love to you,

  27. All the best Jennifer, hope you do not have too many more encounters with this, and better still no more at all! Here in Australia, especially the northern states, it is considered the skin cancer capital of the world. We have a slogan here called SLIP, SLOP, SLAP – SLIP on a Shirt, SLOP on the Sunscreen and SLAP on a Hat! Very very effective ongoing slogan to educate kids of the dangers the sun poses.

  28. Oh no…you poor thing. Keep your chin up, and I’ll be thinking of you. Hugs.

    Thank you for getting the word out. Everyone always laughed at me because I wear sunscreen every day, and end up being the pale one. Maybe now that they know, they won’t make fun, and slather up too.

  29. Thanks for sharing. I wish you the best possible outcome, Jennifer.

    My husband doesn’t take proper care when he’s in the sun and has had three episodes with skin cancer. Yes. I use the present tense. He still doesn’t take extreme caution.

    MAYBE your warning will get the point across. I’ll be thinking of you, my friend.

  30. Oh, Jen, I’m so sorry to hear this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned until I’m red like a lobster. Being in the Florida sun all the time pretty much ensures a sunburn now and then. I now lather up whenever I’m outside and I recently had a spot checked beneath my eye. They God it turned up as nothing. It is so very important to get this message out. I’m with you all the way. You’ll get through this. Hugs.

  31. Wow. That DOES suck. My grandpa had skin cancer and that (combined with a genetic disposition toward freckles and burns instead of tans) has provided lots of livelong disincentive toward making nice with the sun. Get well soon!

    Good luck with the log line contest!

  32. Kourtney Heintz

    Jennifer, I’m so sorry to hear you have to go through this. I hope that your surgery goes well. Thank you for being brave and talking about something so scary and frustrating.

    I’ve been a sun avoider my whole life. I even have a UV parasol for walking outside and I slather on the sunscreen whenever I’m in a car or in direct sunlight.

  33. Thank you for sharing your story. 😦 I hope that things go remarkably well for you! And thank you for the info. I thought basal cell skin cancer was harmless. I had a basal cell mole removed from my face last year. I would go tanning and it would bleed. I thought that might not be good.
    Take care of yourself! You are the most important thing,

  34. My husband had Moh’s surgery a couple of months ago. The waiting to find out if they got it all was excrutiating. He required plastic surgery when it was over and he is still healing. Good luck with your procedure. I’ll be praying for you.

  35. I’m sorry to hear that Jennifer. I wholeheartedly agree with you about shade and sunscreen…I know a few people who still go out to tan in the sun or in salons, and I really hope they stop. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  36. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer. I hope everything goes well for you.