After my post several months ago about my skin cancer ordeal, I’ve been meaning to check back in with a little update. I was overwhelmed with all of the love that was poured out in comments and emails after I posted about the basal cell carcinoma on my face. I was so nervous to show you pictures of my face and try to explain the physical and emotional damage that I felt, but when I did, you responded with such kindness and comfort and support. I’ll never be able to thank you enough for that.

Mel's PSA: Please Wear Sunscreen

I have been humbled beyond words to read all of your comments and emails that came pouring in and learn about what many of you have gone through personally and with family members/friends who have suffered through skin cancer much, much more serious than what I have dealt with. It allowed, maybe even forced, me to shift my perspective; your courage is inspiring.

Many of you have also emailed me personally and/or commented to let me know that the post prompted/inspired/pushed you to check up on a skin spot/mole that you knew about but had been putting off – I can’t believe the number of people that have found themselves in a nearly identical situation after seeing a dermatologist. While it saddens me that anyone else has to deal with this, I am so grateful (and again, so humbled) that perhaps that post was meant to go out into cyberspace to protect others from more serious cancer growth or damage.

Suncare Update

My face is continuing to heal amazingly well. It’s been seven months. I’m no longer putting anything other than facial moisturizer with sunscreen on the scar (no more mederma or essential oils), but I am trying to massage it every morning and night to break up the scar tissue as recommended by my doctor (hurts like the devil). I am seeing my dermatologist every three months for full-body checks to see if there are any other worrisome spots and also to make sure my nose is healing ok (and that the cancer isn’t reoccurring in that area).

My scar is still fairly red and that side of my nose is puffier than the other side…but given the amount of stitches and depth of the surgery, I feel extremely blessed to have healed this well.

Suncare Update

I have become, even more than before, a total and complete shade-lover. Thanks to many of your recommendations, I bought several hats from Coolibar (unaffiliated, just absolutely love their stuff), and even bought swim leggings and a long-sleeved swim shirt from there, also. I’m not going to lie, the first time I wore the whole ensemble to the pool with my kids, I felt a bit ridiculous (especially since I got a lot of stares) but by the 2nd outing, I was over it and kind of excited to go, actually. No sunburns and no excessive need for sunscreen (plus the sexy head-to-toe look covers up some of those trouble areas on my not-so-hot mom bod). Awesome.

Suncare Update

I know I could just wear sunscreen, but because I’m still pretty nervous about excessive sun exposure, covering up makes the most sense to preserve my sanity (and give me the comfort level to make sure I actually leave the house and teach my kids what a swimming pool is and why people use it). I also bought a lightweight jacket (the Athletic Jacket in Grey Geo Print) from Coolibar that I slip on anytime I’m outside. Even in the hot, hot weather, it’s breathable and perfect (there are lots of companies that sell gear like this online; if you’re interested to learn more google “UPF clothing”).

UPDATE THAT I FORGOT TO ADD: Funny story, yesterday I took my kids to the pool and I was decked out in my Coolibar ensemble with an enormous floppy hat, as usual. It was a really hot day and the sun was blazing down. I was catching Camryn as she came down this little yellow tube slide (over and over and over), and a lady came and crouched down by the side of the pool and kind of motioned to me that she had a question. I walked over, me and my ankle length swim leggings and Camryn hanging on to my arm, and we ended up having a 10-minute conversation about my swim outfit. She has a skin cancer history, too, and knew immediately when she saw me that I probably did as well (apparently dressed like this, I’m a walking advertisement for what to wear after skin cancer – either that or people just think I’m a little eccentric or I get cold easily). She’d been looking everywhere for swim bottoms that covered more and I was happy to let her know that no, I wasn’t wearing yoga pants in the pool – these leggings were meant for swimming!

Someone left a comment in my original post indicating that people (or rather, me) shouldn’t fear the sun – and that I’m creating more of a disservice by influencing people to develop phobias about sun exposure. That is not my intent, I assure you. I firmly believe that some amount of sun exposure is good for all of us – hello, Vitamin D! – but I have to be completely honest that I do fear the sun and the damage it can do if I’m not careful with the intensity of exposure I let myself endure (as well as my kids). So maybe healthy fear? Is that a good way to sum it up?

Many of you have asked…here are the sunscreens we’re using these days:

Disclaimer: all the product recommendations in this post are completely unsponsored and are just products I’ve bought for myself and loved; there are a few Amazon affiliate links; feel free to shop around for the best deal!

Aside from sun-protection clothes, I’ve also tested out about a million different varieties of sunscreen. I don’t want to go down the debate path of mineral-based (zinc oxide) sunscreens vs chemical-based sunscreens (like oxybenzone) here today; do your research and find out what you feel most comfortable with. There are A TON of options out there. Like, too many. I have felt overwhelmed over the years trying to interpret and read between the lines about which sunscreen is best, but I feel really good about the sunscreen(s) we are using this summer.

The sunscreen I’m using almost exclusively on the kids (after trying many different brands) is Babyganics Mineral-based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (keep in mind this is not 100% mineral-based; also contains octisalate). It’s water resistant and lasts a long time before having to reapply and we are liking it a lot. The spray form of this sunscreen is worthless – we tried it and my kids got burned; I don’t feel like it lasts as long or is as effective. We use the kind that comes in the 6-ounce tube and it absorbs well and is easy for my kids to apply themselves (if they have help getting those hard to reach areas).
Suncare Recommendations

I’ve been using the above Babyganics on the kids’ faces but I also have this Kiss My Face Face Factor sunscreen (30 SPF) that we sometimes pull out if it’s just a backyard/park activity and water is not involved.

For my own self, I’ve finally found a couple sunscreens that I think I’ll use longterm. Insert major cheering! My issue is I wanted a daily sunscreen that I could use every day as a moisturizer that wasn’t overly greasy, overly smelly, overly white, overly expensive, overly chemically or overly weird. Not too much to ask, right?

This EltaMD UV Daily (40 spf) has become my new daily moisturizer, and I love it! I also use the EltaMD UV Shield (45 spf) for arms/legs/neck if I’m out in the sun without being ultra-covered up. My only disclaimer with the shield version is that it has a slightly stronger fragrance to it that I don’t love – it kind of reminds me of sunless tanner smell (the daily moisturizer is hardly fragrant at all and doesn’t bother me a bit) but it’s minor enough that it isn’t a big issue.
Suncare Recommendations

Like I said, I’ve tried many sunscreens and I’m very happy with these ones. I also have Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid (50 spf) that is so super lightweight and non-greasy; I love it, but it is more chemical-based than the EltaMD brand, so I use it sparingly (but it’s probably among my favorites in how it feels after applying).
Suncare Update

I can’t say it enough (sorry if I sound like I’m nagging or giving too much advice; it’s my only talent) but:
Please stay safe in the sun!

I’ve had some serious sit-down conversations with my kids this summer as they’ve fought me a time or two about putting on sunscreen. Maybe I would have had the same skin cancer issues I do now even if I had worn sunscreen as a kid (which I didn’t wear, ever); I’ll never know. But I don’t want to take the chance with my kids (and whenever they see the pictures of my face again, they are more agreeable), and I want to continue to protect my skin.

Be smart! Be safe! Have fun!

I’m done now.

116 Responses to Personal Note: Skin Cancer Update + Suncare Favorites

  1. Helen says:

    This is a great post !! Thank you for all the great tips and advice. I’ve thought of you every time we have gone to the pool this summer and have been very vigilant with sunscreen !! My favorite part of this post, however, is the beautiful pictures you posted!! Thanks for sharing .. I loved seeing them !! I also loved the live Facebook video this week !! So much fun !! Thank you !!

  2. Teresa says:

    Mel, you look gorgeous! Thank you for a great post. I love your personal posts as much as the cooking ones!!! I am so happy to hear you like the Elta MD sunscreen line. We’ve been using it for many, many years. I am packing up today to head to Maine and I have just stocked up at my dermatologist. Have a great weekend.

    • Mel says:

      Yes! I think it was your recommendation that had me looking into Elta and then a lot of others suggested it, too. So thank you!

  3. Jacqui says:

    Thank you, Mel! I appreciate your advice. I recently had my first little skin cancer “issue” frozen by my dermatologist. It pays to be safe in the sun! Love you posts.

  4. SallyBR says:

    I’ve been wondering about your healing, and all I can say is WOW! You look gorgeous, and your recovery is simply amazing!

    thank you for another great post on the subject!

  5. Melanie says:

    Thank you for this important post, Mel. God gave you this platform, and you are using it wisely! We are all healthier because of your recipes and savvy sun advice! When my dad was diagnosed with melanoma (he is blessed to be a survivor) 5 years ago, I wrote a large paragraph about sun safety in our family’s Christmas letter. I’m sure some people thought it was odd, but if you can help just one person it’s worth it! I agree, I try to cover up and find shade, but the moments I spend walking between the trees and to the barn I consider my “Vitamin D” boost. Have a great weekend! Thanks for the sunscreen picks–that’s always so annoying to spend a lot on a new brand to find that it is nasty, so I will check those out! I tried making my own even, but I just couldn’t find a formula that worked well without being incredibly greasy.

    • Mel says:

      That will probably be me and my Christmas card this year, Melanie! 🙂 I totally get it. I’ve tried making my own sunscreen, too, but the greasiness was overwhelming.

  6. Jan says:

    Wonderful tips and helps, thank you. Soooo glad you’re healing.

    This is going to seem weird, but it actually has worked well for me. I read about it on a survival post, thought it was weird, but decided to try it first on a spot on my arm. I have now used this for my skin spots even on my face: 35% hydrogen peroxide [not the regular kind from drug stores, got this at a health food store, 16 oz. bottle for $14.00, will last my lifetime]…..then using a cotton tip, I gently press/apply this to just the brown/bump area/sometimes red bump, not on any open wounds. It stings/burns like crazy for a minute or so, then it gets white/bit bubbled, I don’t touch it for 12 hours. It usually gets uglier before finally healing after several days of application, then being completely gone. Some places have taken a couple of weeks, others just a day or two. On one spot, after I applied the h.p. it showed a trail of other spots, so I put the h.p. on those also, that area has been quite stubborn, so into 10 days thus far, it’s now just over halfway gone. And on another spot, after applying the h.p. it was red for about an inch out, so I applied the h.p. on the entire red area, that one took 5 days. Then after 12 hours, I apply a 20% frankinscence/oil blend, and let that stay on for 6 hours. Then I wash the area with gentle soap and apply moisturizer with sunscreen (which now I’ll get one of the above kinds to use, thank you) for 6 hours before starting again, or give my skin a day off. [On the brown areas, which looked like a gathering of large freckles, it was smooth/flat at first, but after applying the h.p. a few times, it got darker and bumpy…..just about gone now.]

  7. Debbie D says:

    I could tell by your stitches they did a great job (I have had several surgeries in my life). You look wonderful! So beautiful! Thank you for posting. Was wondering how you were doing.

    Thanks for the sunscreen tips. I cover up from head to toe when I am in the sun. I have not found a sunscreen yet that doesn’t make me break out. However, I have not tried the ones that you suggested, so I am off to the pharmacy this weekend to see if I can find them and try them.

    Thank you so much again. You look mah-val-lous darling! So happy for you!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Debbie – good luck on your search for the right sunscreen! Paualschoice.com has some good reviews of many different brands of sunscreen. Someone recommended that website to me when I first posted about my skin cancer and it was really helpful.

    • Tamra says:

      My kiddos with eczema break out with sunscreen too. However the babyganics lotions and stick don’t make them break out. Hope you find something!

  8. ~ Ruth says:

    Thank you for including sunscreen recommendations – the slimy/greasy/smelly/sticky/weirdness is a big issue for me, too, especially since I think I am allergic to oxybenzone!
    And I thought this the first time you showed your surgery picture and remembered again today with your re-post: Dang, you look gorgeous even with stitches, iodine staining, and swelling. So not fair. (That is not meant to disparage the emotional and physical difficulty of the surgery nor the bravery of posting the picture – just reassurance on how good you still looked.)

  9. ShaNae says:

    You look amazing! Thank you for the reminder about sunscreen. To be honest, I shared your story and pictures with my 10 year old who thinks he knows everything. It scared him to think this could happen to me if I don’t take care of my skin, and this past weekend we were out in full sun on a fossil dig, and he not only wore sunscreen, he wore his hat and his sunglasses which he has previously always fought me on. I only know one other person who has skin cancer and she no longer has a nose for what they had to cut away. She’s recently out of surgery, so I don’t know about cosmetic surgery for it or anything right now.
    I am happy for you and your family that yours was caught early, and is healing amazingly well. Bless you and your family and your continued healing! <3

    • Mel says:

      Tell your son, way to go! I pull out pictures to show my kids, too, even though they saw it first hand only seven months ago. They are definitely more diligent about wearing their cowboy hats outside while working but I’m going to share your comment with them to let them know other kids their age are being careful in the sun, too!

  10. Michelle Anderson says:

    A friend of mine shared your post with me and I thank you for opening yourself up and sharing such a personal experience. I, too, went through a very similar procedure two years ago. I had Basal Cell Carcinoma (the size of a dime) on my nose and had to have plastic surgery to repair it. Fear of the sun has become very much part of my life! I have wide brim hats, UPF clothing and apply sunscreen all the time! My favorites are EltaMD, as well. I use the same daily moisturizing sunscreen as you and love it! The one I use for long term outdoor exposure is a little different. It’s the UV Sport full body sunscreen with SPF 50. I love it! It has a slight scent, but it’s not overpowering. Best of luck to you as you continue on this new journey of healthy sun exposure! The fear and paranoia does get a little better, but it’s never too far from my mind.

    • Mel says:

      Sounds like we have been dealt a similar hand, Michelle! Thanks for the other Elta recommendation – I haven’t tried that one yet!

  11. Melissa says:

    Glad you’re doing well. I have been using the Eucerin Daily Protection SPF 30 face lotion for years. You can buy it at any drug store or Amazon. I have oily skin and don’t find it greasy at all. That might be a good and affordable option for you to entertain for a daily face one as well as the others you’ve tried.

  12. Sally says:

    This is fantastic and super helpful. I’m so glad that your healing has continued and that you are cancer free.

    Just wanted to give a heads up that the Elta sunscreen was recommended by my dermatologist, but made me break out 🙁 Such a bummer!

  13. Jan says:

    Mel, You have been thru so much but wow, you look fantastic! Thanks for being so honest – quite the ordeal! My husband is a fair red-head so we have 2 great products you might want to look into: 1) bekogear.com sells small nose covers that attach to your sun glasses. The classic is for cold weather and the beko 2010 is for warm weather – we have the silver, it works great and doesn’t look too ghastly. 2) Goldfaden MD Sun Visor oil free and fragrance free mist. This stuff is awesome! Hope this helps, Jan

  14. Diane says:

    I am so glad to hear you are doing well! Your face looks fabulous!! I had my own melanoma fully removed 2 years ago from my face and the dermatologist recommended rubbing Aquaphor on it daily to get rid of the stitch marks. I already used it on my dry lips, so I had it on hand and it did make a difference. It’s like Vaseline only better. You might want to give that a try. I never used sunscreen as a kid and was put under a sunlamp for acne as a teenager (I’m quite a bit older than you!). The dermatologist felt that the sunlamp treatment was to blame for my melanoma. Now I’m more careful with sunscreen, but I have to admit that I love sitting in the sun on the beach! I just don’t do it as often now and I sunscreen up first. Continue healing, Mel, and thanks for posting and writing about this!

  15. Teresa says:

    Hi Mel, I’m a 15 year melanoma cancer survivor… Did not know you have been going through this. Mine was on the bottom of my foot.. My dermatologist and an oncologist are convinced mine was caused by the tanning beds… Praise the Lord everything removed since them has been okay… I fuss a people all the time about tanning beds… Thanks for sharing your story.

  16. Becky says:

    I’m glad you’re healing well!

    My youngest daughter was getting sunburned on her face regardless of how diligently I applied the stick sunscreen, so earlier this summer, I switched to the Kiss My Face that you mentioned above. I’m finding that it works better than the other stuff. But, when she was swimming yesterday, she got a little pink. Do you feel like the Babyganics you recommended works better in the water than the Kiss My Face?

    • Mel says:

      Becky, that’s a great question. I do find that with these more mineral-based sunscreens I have to reapply to my kids’ faces much more often. I guess it’s the trade off of not having a 100% chemical-based sunscreen. Yesterday at the pool, Cam’s cheeks got a little pink with the Babyganics but we were in the pool for two hours and she does a lot of wiping the water out of her eyes. It was my fault for not getting out and helping her reapply.

  17. Laurel says:

    Do you know about ewg.com. They have a 2016 guide to the best and safest sunscreens. Their web site also has a lot of information about sun protection and research. The sunscreen you use, Elta, has a 2 rating. A One rating is the best. 5 is the worst. You can type in brand of sunscreen you’re using and it will bring up the rating. My friend uses Honest Mineral sunscreen spf 50 and this has a 1 rating. She gets it at Costco, so I’m going to try it. I bought AM CeraVe facial moisturizing spf 30 at CVS and it has a 2 rating. Thank you for continuing to write about this. I’ve had three skin cancers removed on back, thigh and stomach. Hope that’s the end of it!!!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Laurel! I really hope that’s the end of skin cancer for you, too. Oh my!

      • Laurel says:

        The lowest rating on ewg.com is 10, not 5. It rates hundreds of sunscreen and breaks them into categories for kids, moisturizers, body. Hope you’ll find it helpful.

  18. Leah says:

    Thank you, Mel! I always read your emails. Not a single one goes deleted. Glad all is well and enjoy that sunshine with your sunscreen and coolibar gear of course! 😉

  19. Shanda says:

    Hey this is Shanda. Dixie’s high school friend. Do you happen to follow Sadiethenty? She had a post awhile back about her experience and discusses a lot of great things. I ended up buying blue lizard on Amazon. Apparently it’s big in Australia. Seems great. Anyway. Glad you’re healing!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Shanda! Thanks for your comment. Last time I looked Blue Lizard was hard to find (others had recommended it, too) so I’m glad it’s on Amazon. I’ll have to take a look!

      • Jenny says:

        My neighbor, who is my friend and also dermatologist, recommends Blue Lizard too. Your first skin cancer post got me thinking and I bought a rashguard this year. I love it. It’s so much more comfortable with my three year old grabbing onto me when he jumps in the pool. Thanks for sharing your story!

  20. Helen says:

    I like shiseido skin products. I love the sunscreen. Light and works

  21. Michele says:

    You are a joy in our lives! Thank you for your time, your honesty and all the helpful information–oh and the recipes are great too!

  22. Kay Yasufuku Tam says:

    Thank you for all your amazing recipes and for sharing your experiences! I live in Hawaii where the sun is (pretty much) always shining and people don’t tend to take care to protect their skin. It’s so important for people to protect themselves so you’re so very brave for sharing what you went through, and thank you!!!!

  23. Jan B says:

    Wow Mel, you’re amazing and beautiful! I am so thankful you posted your initial skin cancer statement. It takes a lot of courage to get out here and let people know about your health. Prayers were said for you and now you’re showing us the answers to those prayer.
    My family has a history of skin cancer from my mom and now my older brothers are facing this too. One struggle has been to find a sunscreen for their face that does not sting the eyes.
    Your alert had me checking out a cyst and having it removed, don’t know the pathology report yet but I’m glad I did it.
    Thank you and my God continue to bless you and your family

    • Mel says:

      Thank you so much, Jan! Best of luck to you and your brothers; I hope your pathology report comes back clear! The EltaMD I’ve been using on my face hasn’t stung at all but I know each person is a little different.

  24. angelitacarmelita says:

    The internet is a funny place, and anyone with an opinion can use it to say just about anything, INCLUDING YOU. I think what your doing, sharing this very personal, and scaring experience (both emotionally and physically) with those of us that love to visit you site is courageous and important. its a place for you to share, and people can choose to listen and take something away from this, or not. I applaud you for sharing this. I lost my cousin to skin cancer at her tender age of 31, she left behind a 4 year old, and a 1 1/2 year old and a severely broken hearted husband. Her death was terrible because her skin cancer had been missed and by the time they found it, it was everywhere. Its wonderful to see that your doing well and beginning this habit with your children to use sun screen and wear hats. It’s a preventable cancer and your a great spokesperson, so nuts to those that say “you shouldn’t share this and scare people”. Big love and props to you.

    • Mel says:

      Oh, that is heartbreaking about your cousin. I cannot even imagine. Thank you for sharing that; every little story and prompt hopefully will help people take this seriously!

  25. Nicki F says:

    My youngest was admitted to the emergency room at 13 weeks for heat exhaustion, and we weren’t even in the sun (an un-air-conditioned family reunion cabin in 105 weather), so we’re pretty careful about not getting overheated, but after your last post on this subject I also went out and bought giant sun hats for myself and my kids… we look like dorks but we came home after our last trip to Memphis with no sunburns at all. Thanks for your diligence in reminding everyone to be safe in the sun!

    • Mel says:

      Oh my goodness, Nicki – that would be so frightening! I bet you don’t look like dorks at all; I’m so surprised now more than ever the kids and adults I see that are more covered up in the sun (large hats and rash guards!).

  26. Heather bell says:

    Beautiful inside and out!!

  27. My kids and I wear all Coolibar stuff! Full swimsuits for them and hats. I also bought their leggings this year so the back of my legs wouldn’t get burnt snorkeling. Their products are high quality. I would rather have us covered head to toe and only need to apply sunscreen to our faces, neck, feet and hands. I am glad everything went well with your skin cancer and you are using your experience to educate others!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Amanda – that’s my next step is to look into buying Coolibar gear for my kids. Glad you love it just as well as the adult stuff!

  28. Sarah Keller says:

    Love ya Mel! Glad you are healing up so nicely. I bought my first sunhat for our Lake Tahoe trip this summer with my family. You are one inspiring lady. 🙂

  29. Thanks Mel for this informative post. We also have been touched by skin cancer, as have many Australian families. We have a SunSmart phone app which lets you know the exact UV index and what hours of the day sunscreen/ sun protection is required, also information on how to apply sunscreen.

  30. Susan M. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Your courage is amazing and reminds me that I should be better about being safe in the sun. I appreciate you sharing your products also as I’m always looking for the best ones for my kids and I. Thank you again!

  31. Vanessa Shannon says:

    Oh my gosh Melanie!! I had no idea!! I obviously missed the first post about this months ago. I’m so glad all turned out well and that you are healing (quite nicely actually!) thanks for sharing. I need to be more careful myself ❤️

  32. Cheryl says:

    You are beautiful inside and out. I too had 3 spots of basil cell removed. Upper lip nose and chin. I too was afraid. But I dont see scares I see a mom wife sister daughter aunt and best of all Nana.

  33. Catherine Rich says:

    Thanks, Mel. I appreciably sharing your troubles and findings. That’s really helpful. I need the ideal facial sunscreen too, and I’ll try your faves next. I appreciate getting the benefit of all your trial and error. Love to you and your kids.

  34. Ryan says:

    Thank you for the update and the product info. I too love Elta sunscreen. Is so light and the pump is really nice. I wear the thicker one when I swim and I’ve been wearing the tinted one on work days. I’m excited about the sun clothes you shared. I like to cover up when I garden, but I get too hot.

  35. norene says:

    Hi Mel,
    Clinique has a tinted moisturizer/sunblock, 40 spf, called Super City Block. It’s light and gives just a tiny bit of coverage. I use it every spring/summer. (not much sun in Seattle in fall &winter! 😉
    Thanks for the reminder to get a full body check. Its been a couple of years.

  36. Rachel says:

    Your scar is healing beautifully! After your post i went into the derm and am keeping an eye on some spots. I’m so grateful youre sharing your story! And I love the long sleeved/pant swim suit! I’ve had a rash guard top I’ve loved for a while so cool to see longer pants, too! Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Good luck on those areas your derm (and you!) are keeping an eye on. There’s a certain peace of mind that comes just from knowing you have to be aware…does that make sense?

  37. Heather says:

    I had a spot on my lip. I’m on meds that make me super sun sensitive. I love the idea of the more coverage swim suit besides feeling covered I’d feel less like I’m going to fall out if I play with my kids. I’d feel more like I could play. Thanks for sharing your story!!! I didn’t notice it at all when you were live!

  38. Brooke says:

    Thanks for sharing! I had surgery to remove some melanoma on my neck one week after having my first babe. It was terrifying to say the least. I was lucky to find out it hadn’t spread, but have been in search for some good moisturizer and all over sunscreen as well. Post surgery scars are not fun. I totally feel your pain.

    • Mel says:

      Oh goodness, Brooke, that WOULD be scary! It’s amazing (and a little frightening) how common stories of melanoma and other skin cancers are.

  39. Megan Shaw says:

    You are awesome and I love this post and your site. Still a loyal reader after all these years and still love everything I make of yours, I just don’t have as much time to comment these days….just had my 5th baby, making 4 boys and girl….sound familiar? Our girl was #4 though. Thanks for your inspiration. I’m heading to the dermatologist next month 🙂

  40. Christine says:

    This was great to read. After having surgery two years ago for skin cancer, I have been fearful of the sun and a summer hater. It never even occurred to me to buy long sleeve swim shirts and pants! I am so thankful to have read this, and i just ordered myself some from amazon. I dont mind looking like a fool in my giant floppy hat and huge sunglasses, it gives me peace of mind! Thanks again Mel!

  41. Risa Wright says:

    Thank you for sharing with your heart so openly and caring for others to be encourage us to be wise when in the sun and take precautions. You are beautiful inside and out.

  42. Karen says:

    About seventeen years ago, I went to my dermatologist for a check up on a spot just above my left elbow. It was perfectly round and even in color. He tests everything and it ended up being melanoma. Cut out a chunk of my flesh and required me to come in yearly. Over the next few years he said that melanoma isn’t sticking to the same description it used to (uneven borders, changing color, etc) He has since retired and my new doctor looks at my scalp, inside my mouth, etc. When I explained that the sun can’t get through my hair (I have probably 3x as much hair as the average person), and that I don’t lay outside with my mouth open, she said, “well, skin cancer has less to do with the sun than we thought. Great! Now what do we do? Pray. I have never had a reoccurrence and this post reminds me that I haven’t been to the dermatologist since we moved to the farm two years ago. Off to make an appointment.
    You look amazing and it has healed nicely.

    • Mel says:

      Wow, Karen – that’s so interesting about melanoma but I believe it. I’ve had friends that have had huge melanoma areas removed from parts of their body that have rarely, if ever, seen the sun. Prevention in the form of regular derm appointments for me seems to be the key to feeling ok about things. Good luck with your future appointments!

  43. angelitacarmelita says:

    Your post(s) are sure generating a lot of talk and that’s a good thing! today I was telling a co-worker about them and he said “omg, my wife was just diagnosed with melasma” and has started wearing hats and using umbrellas everywhere we go. I told him about this post and the Coolibar clothing you purchased, he said “please send me the link!” My niece went out and bought her son a long sleeve shirt for the beach this year. I think someone should be getting a discount w/the Coolibar company….. (you).

  44. Brianne Garzarelli says:

    Thanks for sharing. I am very fair-skinned and I really started wearing sunscreen daily in my twenties. I burn easily. I love the hats and sunscreens from Coolibar. Also, I have been using Elta MD for about 5-6 years and it is my absolute favorite. I like the daily for my face. However, when doing outdoor activities, I use ELTA MD Sport SPF 50. It stays on, doesn’t cause my sensitive skin irritation, and if I’m sweaty, it doesn’t burn my eyes. I highly recommend it. Also, Blue Lizard is my favorite for the kiddos. I use the baby formula, SPF 30. Whether mineral or chemical-based, I have used A LOT of sunscreens and many do not work. Both of the brands I discussed are my favorites and my children and I have never burned while wearing them. You look great!!

  45. Janet says:

    Mel you are awesome! You inspired me to get a long sleeve rash guard to wear when I swim with my kids. I was always getting burned on my back and places I could reach to put the sun screen. Thank you for sharing your story…plus all the amazing meals and treats you have brought into our home!!

  46. Ruth Ann says:

    i just visited your blog to look for a yummy meatball recipe, i always love your recipes, and i just thought i’d check out this “skin cancer” update. OH MY- thanks so much for sharing. I have had a few suspicious spots removed in the past, and currently have a bothersome itchy red spot on my hand. I am setting up the dermatologist appointment asap. i spent two weeks in Guam this April and the Asians at the swimming pool, were covered top to bottom, hats,long sleeves and hardly any skin showing and i thought it a bit overboard, but they must be much smarter than we are… I know i have worshiped the sun way too much over the years and often forget to use any sunscreen. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I love your blog and loved this post.

  47. Anne says:

    Glad you are healing well and you look beautiful! Thank you for your honesty and nagging us to protect ourselves from the sun. I’m a Mom and a nurse so I fully believe in constant reminders to be healthy. Being a redhead with fare skin, I’ve always been conscious of the sun, but I appreciated your good tips and needed them, too. Thanks for making covering up fashionable! I am sure if you are doing it, many will follow suit!

  48. Shar says:

    About 10 years ago, I had developed this huge “freckle” on my cheek larger than the size of an eraser. And about three years later, I found myself in a dermatologists office while stationed in Germany. Turns out my freckle was pre-cancerous. She said that at 32 years old, I was the youngest patient she had ever treated and wanted to know if I grew up where it was warm. I told her I was from Texas. During my treatments, she said that we receive 80% of our lifetime exposure to sun by age 18! 80%…let that soak in. I am like you, extremely vigilant about reducing sun exposure. Covering myself head to toe while working in the yard, slathering myself and my children in sunscreen every time we leave the house, and being smart about sun exposure is now my new normal (and my kids’ new normal). And to address the comment in your article about you creating a fear of the sun, I’m sorry, but to me that sounds like it was spoken by a person who has never had to face the scare of skin cancer and what that can potentially mean as a wife and mother. To me, it is far scarier to sit in that doctor’s office waiting for bad news. It will reshape the way you think of the sun, and will teach you how to enjoy the sun in a healthy way. But as a mom, I know that I am raising my kids to have a healthy experience with the sun, so they won’t have to sit in that doctor’s office, heart pounding, hands trembling, and on the verge of tears.

    • Mel says:

      I agree with you, Shar – the fear I have is a healthy fear created by firsthand experience getting my face cut open. It really did create some emotional scars but that’s not a bad thing; I want to use the experience to be smarter in the sun and like you, create smarter kids about suncare. Thank you for your comment!

  49. Helena says:

    My mom reads your blog and pointed me to this post as she knows I’ve been looking for better sun-protective clothing, especially swimwear. We live in FL and my husband and kids love the outdoors (so I go along too), and my son and I burn really easily (my daughter tends to tan like my husband, so she fights me more on sunblock–she hates it, it’s greasy, and half the time it washes off anyway). Thank you so much for sharing these resources!

  50. Annabeth says:

    I also wear the long swim pants and long-sleeve swim shirt from Coolibar at the pool and at the beach. I started wearing them when we lived in AZ because I swear I could FEEL the sun cooking my skin every time I went outdoors and I still wear them now that we live in Hawaii–even tho pretty much everyone else at the beach is in a bikini. 😉 I just hate fooling with sunscreen and the good stuff is expensive. I wish I could still get my kids to wear the long swim pants. At least they will wear the long-sleeve swim shirts or rash guards. My younger daughter fights me but I just keep telling her she will thank me one day!

  51. Brandette W. says:

    No need to apologize for trying to stay safe! We love you and are so happy that you are getting back to normal, most importantly that you have found a method to the madness that makes you comfortable.

    I have very fair skin, I have always always burned with the slightest sun exposure. It’s just what it is. I was always sad as a teen growing up that I wasn’t like the other girls and was so white when they could all be so tan. But, then you grow up and realize we all have differences. I avoid much in the way of outdoor activities at high sun times, I definitely restrict when my young son plays outside because I don’t want him to go through the pain of a sunburn. I hate the feeling of sunscreen, so I don’t wear it. This means I don’t do sun related activities and I am fine with that.

    I have got to say THANK YOU for posting about the swim leggings. I had NO idea that was even a thing, omg, that is amazingly useful.

    Thank you for being so incredibly open with your experience and so brave for sharing pictures with us. I think more people need to be aware of the dangers, so many bake themselves and then have to pay for it the hard way later. Keep doing what your doing because you are an inspiration!

  52. Barb Heersink says:

    You are looking great Mel! In time, it will all just disappear and you will have to look very closely to see anything at all. I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from the end of my nose. The doctor used the Mohs procedure. It took 4 tries to get clean margins and then a skin graft. Now you can hardly see anything at all! I have been a reader and using your recipes for years, and they are the BEST. Good luck to you as you continue the healing process. xoxo

  53. cibele says:

    You still look beautiful. Don’t worry about your scar.

  54. Brittany says:

    I had my first basal cell removed from my cheek when I was only 27. At 32 I had one removed from my nose. Last month I had one taken off my hairline. I know more are in my future (not because I’m not careful now but because the damage was already done years ago). It’s a scary thing and you never can be too careful. Thanks for your example to cover up and seek shade! Life is too short for me to miss out on outdoor fun with my three small kids but shade and sunscreen are my best friends!

  55. Sigi says:

    Hi Mel,

    I’m a long time fan of your blogs and cooking! Coming back after a bit though. Love how you are healing. You look beautiful as always! Try and do some meditation few times a week. It is a great healer.

    God bless.

  56. Shawna says:

    This is a great post, thank you for sharing your story. As they have gotten older, I have slacked over the last couple of years on applying sunscreen to my kids. I usually never wear it as I am a shade lover and get hardly any (if at all) color during the summer. Your post is a great reminder to stay on top of my kids and to be cautious myself. All the best in your recovery!S

  57. Si says:

    Awesome post. I have an olive complexion but always wear sunscreen and a hat! Thanks for your honesty and for sharing this. It may save a life. <3

  58. LeeAnne says:

    Thank you for the Elta recommendation. I just received it in the mail and I love it, too. It goes on so smooth and doesn’t leave any “white” behind on my face. I will be purchasing more. Happy Summer!

  59. Marissa says:

    Wonderful post, thank you! I had a stage 1A melanoma removed from my arm this June and while I have always been vigilant with sunscreen, I can 100% relate to your comments about switching to wearing full cover-up (especially the swim tights!) at the pool with the kids and getting looks! Thanks for sharing, it’s really nice to read about someone going through similar things. I am also on the hunt for a favorite daily face sunscreen and kids sunscreen. Right night I like MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen and ThinkSport SPF 50+. Best of luck with everything!

  60. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Would you mind sharing which essential oils you used on your scar? And did you use them when you still had stitches or after the stitches were removed? I have to go in next month for surgery to remove skin cancer and your scar looks like it has healed nicely.

  61. Missy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! For the essential oils, did you put those on the scar when you still had stitches or after the stitches were removed? Thank you!!

  62. Erin Walker says:

    Love you, Mel. Another great post. Btw, I didn’t even notice any lingering traces of your surgery on your face at the cabin. You look perfectly back to your usual beautiful self to me. Thank you for your thoughts on this important subject! Seriously, kudos!

  63. Lizzie Low says:

    I’m new to your website, but this post caught my eye. So sorry you have to deal with this. If you get more basal cells in the future, you might consider an ED&C + imiquimod as an alternative to the MOHS (ask your derm, of course). I just had a basal cell removed from my scalp in February of this year by my sister-in-law (a dermatologist). I had a good long talk with her about excision vs. ED&C + imiquimod, and ED&C + imiquimod was the clear winner (not as disfiguring, cure rate over 90%, maybe 95%–I can’t remember). I had an ED&C followed by imiquimod for a few weeks (just a little dab–that stuff is potent!), and so far, no recurrence (and my hair grew right back through the spot! Bonus!). Imiquimod is a TLR-7 agonist, so it’s basically like smearing bacterial protein on your face–it makes your body really angry and go crazy on that spot, killing those cancerous and precancerous cells.

    I was meticulous about wearing hats and seeking shade when I lived in Utah, but the mountain west really does just have a high UV index 🙁

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