I’ve been keeping a secret. And I’ve really debated whether or not to tell you about it. After all, this is a lifestyle blog where I show you the latest fashion finds, beauty products, travel destinations and sale alerts. But I decided that by being completely honest here today and telling you about my recent health scare, it might make it easier for you to identify this problem and get immediate help. My secret is…
I have skin cancer. OK, before we get into the nitty-gritty of this, I’m totally fine now. We caught it early and have completely resolved it. But I thought it was an important story to share on the blog. Especially because I hope that you will be vigilant about this and go to the doctor. It’s so important to have a good dermatologist and to regularly see them just for a skin check. Personally, I use Lori Stetler, M.D. and Jennifer Scheiderich, P.A. for all my dermatology needs at Dallas Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics. You’ve read blog posts here about Kybella, Thermage, Cool Sculpting, Microblading and Laser Treatments. I’ve been seeing them for over 20 years for all my dermatology needs and my entire family uses this practice. Additionally, I see Lynley McAnalley, M.D. at Highland Park Aesthetic Medicine for all my injectable aesthetic needs. You might remember my blog posts about the InstaLift, Botox and Voluma and blog posts about ZO Skin Health products here and here. Bottom line, I have a lot of great people who see me often and are looking at my skin!
You might wonder how this happened. I had a dry, flaky patch about the size of a dime at the top of my forehead. I kept telling myself it was nothing and probably just a reaction to all the beauty and skincare products I try for the blog. After all, when you change products as often as I do, it does cause irritation. It was not a mole nor was it discolored. It was just a regular spot on my forehead that kept peeling. Over and over again. But it did nothing else. Just kind of annoying and wouldn’t go away. I had one of the kids in to see Jennifer Scheiderich, P.A. for a regular skin check and mentioned that I had this weird spot on my forehead. She said it didn’t look like anything suspicious but just to be safe, we made a separate appointment for me and got it biopsied. I really thought I was just wasting everyone’s time and that she would prescribe me a topical ointment that would clear it up in a few days. And then the phone call came…
It was basal cell carcinoma. I was numb for a second and thought you have got to be kidding me. ME? The one who takes such good care of my skin? Now let me say this. If you must have a cancer, this is the one you want to have. Melanoma is much more aggressive and spreads quickly. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common kind of skin cancer. It’s easily treatable but you must take action and treat it. That is one of the most important things I want to drive home by writing this post. ACT ON IT! That annoying, flaky spot had been there for months and I didn’t do anything about it. In fact, I bet you never saw it. No one did. You can look back through all my blog posts and I bet you won’t catch it. That’s my point. I knew it was there and should have done something immediately!
They gave me two treatment options. Try a topical to see if it would shrink and clear up or have it cut out at with Moh’s surgery. I tried the topical for several weeks and after much thinking, I decided to have it taken out with Sarah Weitzul, M.D. FAAD at Surgical Dermatology Associates Dallas, P.A. I’m the kind of person that just wants the problem resolved and Moh’s surgery has a 95-99% cure rate. Typical me, I had an 8:15 AM appointment with Dr. Weitzul and thought I would be home by 11:00 AM. WRONG! I went through 3 rounds of excision before she got clear margins and knew that she had all the cancer. In case you are wondering, they cut the suspected area and use their onsite lab to check the cells. You will continue to the next round until they know that they have all the cancer cells. During the process we decided to have a plastic surgeon close the wound. After all, it’s my face we’re talking about. Dr. Weitzul called and Patrick H. Pownell, M.D. was able to fit me into his schedule that afternoon. Pete picked me up and took me to the surgery center for Dr. Pownell to close the wound. Needless to say, what I thought would be some quick stitches turned into surgery with them putting me under using general anesthesia. I had numerous internal stitches and 17 external sutures. I got home at 5:00 PM. That day didn’t go the way I thought it would. Isn’t that what happens when you think you have control of everything and suddenly realize you are in control of nothing?
I am showing you some of the pictures from that day in hopes of helping others identify skin cancer. My sutures are out now and I am in the process of treating the scar. Eventually, it will fade into my frown line and all will be forgotten. But if I ever see anything like this again, you better believe that I will immediately act on it and call my dermatologist. Chances are, I’ll have to deal with it again because of the tanning decisions I made in the 80’s. If you read this blog post then you know that I had a membership at a tanning salon and often sunbathed using baby oil. Oh, and I had one of those silver reflector blankets that promised to tan me all the way around. Much like a rotisserie chicken. Get the picture? Can you say dumb a$$?
Since this is such an important topic, I asked Dr. Lori Stetler to give me the top warning signs of basal cell carcinoma. They are:
1) A spot that continuously scabs and never seems to heal
2) A spot that bleeds easily
3) Usually translucent or pink but can have pigment
4) Most common on sun exposed areas, but can occur anywhere there is skin
5) It’s the most common form of skin cancer. It can grow large and be destructive if not treated, but do not usually spread (like melanomas).
So if you see me out and about with a steri-strip on my forehead, you know what happened. And you better believe that I slather on 50 SPF sunscreen or higher just to walk the dogs. I’m linking you to my favorite sunscreen products below. Also, there are some great clothing brands that make their clothes with sun protection in them. Brands like Solumbra, Coolibar and Cabana Life offer clothes with UPF 50. Brilliant!
Thank you for letting me share my story. If just one person goes to the dermatologist for a skin check, I will have done my job. Please SHARE today’s blog post and help spread the word about getting your skin checked. It’s important!
xoxo – Tanya
P.S. Be sure to page all the way to the bottom of this post. A reader sent me an e-mail with her personal story.
Tanya’s tale of skin cancer
This picture was taken at the beginning of July. I bet you don’t see anything.
The red spot at the top of my forehead is the spot we are talking about. That is it. Pardon the no makeup look.
Although it is red here, it was continuously flaking and peeling. It was mostly annoying and would never go away. UGH!
Waiting between excision rounds at Surgical Dermatology Associates Dallas, P.A. Dr. Weitzul did an amazing job and her staff is great. My forehead was numb and I never felt a thing. In fact, I was watching TV.
After 3 rounds of excision, we decided it was best to have a plastic surgeon close the wound. Per usual, I’m trying to make a fashion statement out of my hospital gown right before surgery. Dr. Patrick H. Pownell did a great job.
The day after the procedures. 17 sutures. WOW! Who knew that such a little spot could turn into this?
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Photo: Vanessa Christina
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A note from one of my subscribers:
After reading about your experience with the Mohs surgery, I expected the stubborn spot above my upper lip was cancerous and I needed to have it checked. Well, time went by and it didn’t change but it wasn’t going away either and I just kept putting it off (my bad). Finally at the first of the year I had it biopsied by Dr. Feetham at Dr. Stetler’s office and it was squamous cell carcinoma. Strangely, even though it seemed rather obvious that’s what it was going to be, I was still surprised and sort of in denial. I had a consult with Dr Perone ,same office you went to, and got scheduled for Mohs . I do craft shows so I was trying to work the surgery around the ones I had scheduled ,as this thing on my face was gonna stand out after surgery . Well, before the surgery date, COVID19 came and I finally just yesterday got to have my surgery. I also had the stitches with Dr. Pownell.
So, all that to say I appreciate you for writing about your experience. I read the post 3 or 4 times and it gave me courage to go on with the procedure and to calm down a bit about it. I am a big nervous Nellie about any thing that goes wrong in my body and will research the heck out of whatever is going on. It really helped me mentally and emotionally to know you had been through it and survived just fine. I always like to know what to expect before something like that so when I went In, because of you, I felt mentally prepared.
Dr. Pownell was awesome and I’m confident my scar will be just fine. I am one of those girls who doesn’t want to even go out for a walk without my lip stick, so the thought of a line of stitches, (16 total inside and out) then a scar on my face made me quite anxious.
But I’m OK now and just not worried about it.
I have followed your blog for a long time and have stayed with it because you keep it all real and relatable. So thank you for sharing a bit of yourself that you could have chosen not to. I wanted you to know you made a difference! And isn’t that what we all hope to do every day!
Thank you so much for being transparent and sharing your compelling story. I am checking my
skin and making an appt. with my dermatologist ASAP. So glad you
are on the mend.
Very informative- thank you for sharing.
Wow Tanya! So glad this was caught in time!
Stay beautiful inside and out!
I had the exact same thing, in almost the exact same place 3 years ago!! It’s amazing how it is so much larger under the surface!
I use the topical too, but sometimes you just need to cut it out!
It’s really made me much more careful in the sun, and trying to embrace my normal skin color!!
Thanks for sharing!!
OMG Jodie. So glad you got it.
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Thank you for sharing. You are correct in that little red spot didn’t look like much. I always think of skin cancer as a mole that changes into a darker color. Very useful information.
Thank you Tanya for sharing the “real”. So many people look up to you and follow you. I appreciate that you take the responsibility of your status to keep your readers informed about not only the fun stuff but the serious stuff, too. Not everyone would have let us in to this personal side. Thanks for keeping it real!
Glad you caught it early! I just had a basal cell removed on my shoulder! Thank goodness for Lori Stetler!!!!
Right? She is an amazing doctor and I am so thankful for her!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Wow, Tanya, thank you for sharing your cautionary tale – one that a lot of us who worshiped the sun (and tanning beds – eek) should heed. I’m sorry you went through this and thank goodness for your wonderful dermatological team who took such great care of you. I have a couple of spots like you describe and will call my derm as soon as his office opens today. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing such a personal story. So appreciated.
Wow, exact spot, same procedure. Mine was there for a year before I addressed the issue. As others mentioned it’s not the surface size that indicates the extent of the problem so be mindful. HATS, let’s bring back hats and wear sunscreen!!! In addition to my forehead, there was a small cluster, almost pearl like, almost more like blocked pores, alongside my nose. Last summer was tough, everything is fine, every six months I have a full body check. Given how my two areas presented differently I can’t emphasis enough the need for an annual shin check. Thanks for sharing your story, best on your healing.
So glad you got yours taken care of. Must be a popular spot for skin cancer.
Glad you are ok. Thanks for sharing!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing !
ThanKS for sharing! I talk to my fiance about this all the time. He’s often in the sun (mailman) with out any sort of protection. After years of me begging him to see a derm he finally went and they biopsied 2 spots. (Now to get him to get regular check ups!) But I had limited knowledge of what basal cell looked like. Thank you for sharing!
REALLY appreciate this post! I go once a year for a full-body check….including my scalp, the tops of my ears, etc. But, we all see our own bodies 365 days a year, and if something does not seem right, getting a physician to check it out is absolutely the right thing to do! Thank you for sharing your experience, and I am VERY glad you are ok, friend!
Tanya, So much I want to say but will try to keep it short. First, I am so grateful you are okay! I am grateful for YOU using your blog to inform others to be mindful of their skin changes. I want to share with you that I too, baked myself in the 80’s, blistered countless times all over my face and shoulders, baked in tanning beds in college and for many years after that- baked in the sun on trips to Aruba, etc. I was born fair skinned as it is. I have freckles and moles all over my body and had a suspicious mole removed in 2006. I am supposed to go to the dermatologist for checks every year at minimum and have NOT. Last time I was there- she even told me I had many that should be biopsied. Your post today scared me- and I thank GOD it did. I needed it. I have a 4 year old and she needs me to be here! I love your fashion and blog posts (I think I have purchased 75% of your N sale picks – the other 25% is out of stock, LOL!) but THIS POST is so huge, so real and so critical. I think we all get so caught up in caring for our families that we sometimes neglect our own health or say “I’ll have to call…” and life happens.
Thank you so much for such an important post- and what may be life changing for your readers. You didn’t have to be forthcoming at all. You are AMAZING and I am truly grateful for you. Feel well!!!
OMG Diane, I am in tears. THANK YOU for sharing your story. Yes, please make that phone call today!
And thank you for being such a loyal blog reader and shopper.
We’ll get back to fashion soon.
I am so sorry to hear this. I am so glad you got treatment. I hope this is the last bout. Be positive, and thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing! I’ll be on the look out. Glad your feeling better!
Tanya thank you SO much for sharing this information with us! I am literally picking up the phone and calling my dermatologist for a skin check right now! Happy to hear you are already feeling much better too. 🙂
All the hugs!
So glad you are doing that. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment today!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Tanya thank you for sharing this.
I go once a year for a full body skin checkup but my derm said to come twice a year since I’m outside so much golfing.
This reminds me to make my appointment now !
You are outside all the time. Please get checked.
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Love your frankness and the openness of your experience. Thank you for sharing.
You’re awesome! Thank you Tanya! Making an appointment!
In HIS Grip! Bless you ❌⭕️❤️
Thank you for sharing your story – pictures and all. Valuable info for everyone!
Important post! Thanks for sharing! XO
Thanks for reading the blog post and leaving a comment!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Tanya, so glad you caught the skin cancer early and got it treated. You did a great thing by sharing it.
I have been fighting pre cancerous places on my body for years. I have also had pre melanoma on my back cut out 10 years ago. It is an on going battle. I am so glad you were proactive. Thanks for sharing Tanya!
Tanya…I went through precisely the same thing as you did except my cancer was on top of my head! In my hair….panic! After spending the day having it removed, it was decidedly too large to just stitch. Voila…Dr. Pownell! He is a magician and put me back together. I am constantly wearing hats now and who worries about their head? All of us should and I adore Dr. Kristel Polder and everyone at Dallas Center for Dermatology. Thanks for your blog…I bet it helps a bunch of ladies.
Big Hugs and glad you got this taken care of. Very scary and not something to mess around with! I have lots of tiny moles, so I see a Derm annually for a skin check.
wow! So glad you are OK. I grew up in California in the 70’s. The Sun was our second God! Never too thin or too tan! Then of course there were tanning beds, I loved it all and hated when my tan began to fade. (Still prefer tan legs over white ones) I saw my Derm about 1-1/2 years ago and everything was fine. I am going to set up an appointment today! If I lo0ok at my skin I can’t tell the “aging” brown spots from the rest I too have a great derm and will see her soon. I still miss the sun!
Thank you for sharing Tanya! I am grateful you are ok and healing!!
Thank you for sharing this topic. Hopefully, all of our daughters (and sons) will listen to this warning. Thinking about you as you recover.
Dr. Pownell is the best! I too have had Moh’s with a Basel Cell, then a melanoma all on my face. Thanks to skin checks every 6 months, sunscreen and Dr. Pownell, you would never know it!
Glad you shared and doing well. I promise soon you will not even notice that you had surgery. I know you will be diligent in your use of scar creams!
Powerful post and so thankful for your transparency. I have had 2 MOH’s and have another right between my eyes to do. Please let me know what you are doing for the scar. Love you!
Thank you so much for sharing. It has gotten that I don’t hardly want to go swimming so afraid of the sun.(Dallas,TX) My husband who was a letter carrier, has had numerous spots removed & even some he had to go back for more removal. So glad for you.
Thank you for being honest and vulnerable with us. I have been checking myself for things that might be more than I think. Glad you are ok!
Tanya, thank you sharing this important information with everyone. Many of us were sun worshippers in our early years with many occasions of sunburn. It is critical to educate young people of the dangers of sunburn.
Thank you Joyce!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
So glad you caught it! I had a spot like that on my chest that I kept applying moisturizer to for a couple of years. It never completely healed but I kept telling myself it was dry skin. By the time I had the basal cell carcinoma removed, it was large! I will not do that again.
Thank you for sharing, its the most innocuous things that we ignore that can cause the most harm. Be vigilant, be cautious. Great advice and so glad all worked out well
Tanya, I am thrilled that you shared your story with us. I am fair skinned and burned many times when I was a kid and while water skiing. Plus, like you I used tanning beds to help get brown so I wouldn’t burn. So dumb of me. When I get a little something on my face I get worried and have it checked out. It has not turned out to be anything yet. I know I will be facing this issue at some point since my skin has been blistered in years past. I know what to look for from this post. Thank you. I am sorry you had to go through all this but happy you got to it early. You look beautiful always.
Thanks for being brave and sharing this x best of luck to you, nice to see your blog post today x
/Tanya, I am so sorry you had to endure this , however, I thank God you immediately went to have it taken care of. I love you as much today as I did the night you were born. You are special and always in my heart. My love to you always. Aunt Jan
Thanks for the wakeup call, Tanya! We all have new things that crop up on our skin and most of them we don’t think any further about. I have a spot that now makes me think I should get it taken care of. Brenda
You are welcome. We all have to stay on top of these details!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Thanks a lot Tanya for sharing your story and experiences with us. It really spreads awareness among people about skin cancer and other skin problems.
That is exactly what mine looked like! Only I had the spot for YEARS. Thank God it’s the type that doesn’t spread. Thank you for sharing your story. Glad everything turned out okay for you.
REALLY??? Glad you are ok!
VALUABLE INFO ✅✅✅
Thank you for sharing your story! It is good information for everyone!
You are welcome. If it helps just one person, I have done my job!
I am so glad you are better! And it sounds like your whole family is taking important steps to prevent this in the future!
Yes they are. My #1 goal is to make sure my kids don’t have to go through this.
Thank you, Tanya, for sharing this info. I too have been through this saga! It’s so important to stay vigilant. Thanks for getting the word out . . . and KEEPING it out there!!!
I’m so glad you like this blog post. It’s an important one to share.
Thank you for reposting this! Such a great reminder for all of us, even though I am sorry you had to go through that. Sure do wish I had stayed out of the sun and tanning beds when I was younger! Thank goodness our children are more aware that we were!
I’m so glad you liked this post. As a nurse, you know how important SPF is DAILY!
Wish I would have been smarter earlier in my life.
Thanks for reposting this…Hopefully, it will take some of the fear out of dealing with skin cancer…it can’t be ignored, but CAN be treated and removed…I’ve had several on my face and chest…My kids, too, have seen me and are very vigilant about their use of sunscreen!!!
Of course. I’m happy to help in any way possible!