Back in 2014 I was in a dressing room in Target with my younger daughter, Emma, (who was 5 at the time) and she asked me “Mama, what is that black spot on your back?” I thought ‘What black spot?’ I turned and looked in the mirror to see what she was talking about, and sure enough, there was indeed a black spot on my right shoulder blade. Hmm. Should prob call the dermatologist about that. I have fair, white skin, dotted with a million moles and freckles, and I’ve had my fair share of them removed over the last two decades. The dermatologist sends them to a lab, and sometimes the results come back as fine, sometimes dysplastic, which is a debatable term. Some doctors call dysplastic nevus ‘precancerous’, and some call them ‘atypical’. Either way, it’s just a weird mole you gotta keep an eye on. I’ve had maybe 40 or more of these removed in my life, so in You’ve Got Mail when Joe Fox says, “152 pockmarks from having 152 moles removed” … it hits a little close to home there, Tom.
Fast forward a couple nervous weeks later, I found out I had a melanoma. At 40… Ummmm, say what? But it was there, and very small, maybe half the size of a pencil eraser, or a green pea, shaped like a tiny black daisy. It was surgically cut out, while I was awake, and I’m not going to lie, it hurt like hell. The cut was deep, about 2″ long, through the muscle to the bone. There were 3 layers of stitches – 26 in total, all for just this tiny dark spot. A tiny dark spot that if left to grow… can kill you.
So let’s chat briefly about skin, and I’ll try to keep it interesting. I’m not a doctor obviously, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn once, and I’ve read a LOT about this dense subject. I’d be remiss if I didn’t review the different types of skin cancers out there, and what you should be looking for. I’ll also review some other tips I use to try to slow down the aging process without using a ton of chemicals.
Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell is the most common of skin cancers, and the least dangerous. They first appear like a pearlish, hard, flesh colored mole. They can sometimes be dark, or even pink, and may be scaly.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is not generally life threatening, but it can be aggressive. Squamous cell carcinoma starts out as a thick, red, scaly patch that may crust or bleed. These are usually found outside the body but can appear inside your mouth as well. Any rough patch that doesn’t clear in 2 months should be checked out.
Melanoma: The most serious form of skin cancer. Melanomas can look similar to moles, some develop inside of moles, causing the mole to change in appearance. Most are black and brown, two toned, and irregularly shaped. Melanoma is typically caused by UV exposure/sunburn, and more than 10,000 people a year die from the disease, just in the US alone.
Sidenote: because I love you, if you are using one of these I implore you to stop. Yes, the light therapy is nice, and the nap is first rate… but grounding or earthing in the actual sun will do the same thing, and won’t kill you. Look it up. Promise. **Indoor tanning beds are proven to cause cancer and have been classified into the highest cancer risk category by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research.
Dry Brushing Is LIFE
Are you dry brushing? If not, get thee a brush and start TODAY… it is AMAZING!! Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: dry brushing your skin to stimulate lymphatic drainage, removing toxins from the body, boosts circulation, and…. (do you feel me on this one—->) can reduce cellulite!! A good dry brush has hard, natural bristles- like a back scrubber for the bath only shorter, and you’ll use it dry. Rub in a circular motion and toward your lymph nodes. I do this before every shower or bath, and at first I thought Uh… this brush is really hard! Now I look forward to it and it is literally one of my most favorite things in life.
After dry brushing, take a shower. Then… get out, and get your favorite lotion. Throw it directly in the trash. Go to the kitchen. Get out the olive oil. Or almond oil. Rub it all over your bod. Yes, I’m serious. Olive oil has amazing antioxidant benefits and is super hydrating! Humans have been using it well, since…. humans discovered olives. It works just like lotion, leaves you glowing and your skin hydrated, without a zillion chemicals.
And finally… water. You knew it was coming. Water is essential. Water is amazing. Yada yada- I’m sure you know all about water and 8 glasses a day. But…. also consider, it doesn’t happen overnight, your major organs get water before your skin. Consistently drinking more water will hydrate your skin, and will also aid in hydrating your digestive system, gets things er, moving. Drinking more water will clear your face, help with circulation, and even helps to prevent wrinkles.
One last thing- eat plants. Still not telling you to give up meat and dairy and join me in the super amazing freedom I’ve found in eating only plants…. because I don’t want to freak you out. And I want you to keep reading my blogs. And I like our chats. One sided as they are. But… plants. I’m telling you, eating only plants will change your life. We’ll chat about that another time. For now, love on that beautiful skin of yours. See a dermatologist at least once a year. I am happy to refer mine if you are in the Charlotte area. Get some sun for vitamin D purposes. Wear a mineral sunscreen. Avoid parabens. Avoid diet soda. Yeah I said it.
Emma spotted my skin cancer, and she likes to credit herself with saving her mama’s life. She did, in more ways than one… but that is another blog post entirely.