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As a child I was exposed to the sun a lot and usually ended up with severe sun burns as I was fair skinned. When I became a teenager, around the age of 15, I started using tanning beds regularly. I thought you had to be tan to look good. I continued tanning throughout my adult years.

When I was 36 I got 2 spots on my face, one by my nose and one by my upper lip.  They started bleeding and became sore. I went to the doctor and he burned them off and sent me on my way.

At the time I was going through a divorce. I lost my insurance and could not afford much as I was raising 2 young boys. The spot on my nose looked just like a bump, but the spot on my lip started bleeding again and getting bigger. What could I do? I didn’t have any insurance and at work, I could only sign up for insurance during open enrollment.

I covered it with makeup until it started getting worse and I could no longer cover it. Then I was able to sign up for insurance and had a dermatologist appointment. Sure enough, he biopsied 3 places on two sides of my upper lip and nose, which looked as though the skin was shedding. All 3 came back as basal cell carcinoma. He immediately referred me to a plastic surgeon because it was beyond his care. I saw the plastic surgeon and within a week I was scheduled for my surgery, which was schedule to be a 3 hour procedure.

The day of the surgery, they took me in, put me to sleep and I was in surgery for 5 hours or so. When they got in there, there was more in the lip area and it was actually spreading down my lip lines. I am now 5 weeks post-operation and healing nicely.

Lesson learned. I preach to all my friends and family the importance of sun screen and protecting yourself. No tanning beds. Tanning is not looking good.  Your life is what matters. Pale skin will be beautiful for me and my family from now on.