Learning the Hard Way After Skin Cancer
- Media personality Michelle Dewberry, 42, once had a “harrowing” brush with skin cancer after two different doctors misdiagnosed the bump on her nose as a “harmless pimple.”
- Urged to go in for a third consult after bumping into a doctor friend at a party, the wife and mother found out it was cancer.
- Like many patients who go through a rollercoaster of emotions following a diagnosis, she then became angry. Mainly since she felt she had not been looked after properly. If you have a medical concern and know something is not right, keep pushing until someone will take you serious.
The Hull, England native, who only experienced vacations in her home country, admitted that she never wore sunscreen growing up.Read More
Chalking it up to her skin care products, Michelle switched moisturizers. When that didn’t work, she then started focusing on changing her diet.
“The pimple disappeared for a few weeks but then it came back,” she said, adding that she switched gears yet again and bought an expensive anti-spot cream.
“But still it came and went. Sometimes it was raised, sometimes it was just a red mark. I know now that this changeability is a classic sign of cancer,” the political reporter said. When she went to get it checked, she was told it was just a “harmless pimple.”
She got a second opinion, and once again, the spot was dismissed as nothing.
Fortunately, Michelle says she was finally urged by a plastic surgeon to push for a third biopsy. She heeded their advice, and was rushed into an emergency surgery. It was basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer. The surgeon had to cut a centimeter deep into her nose.
“When I heard the ‘C’ word I crumbled,” Michelle shared. “I immediately thought of death and then of losing my hair. I felt like my life was over. It was really harrowing, I thought I was going to die.”
Like many patients who go through a rollercoaster of emotions following a diagnosis, she then became angry. Mainly since she felt she had not been looked after properly.
“I was lulled into such a false sense of security, the cancer would probably still be growing today if I hadn’t bumped into a dermatologist at a Christmas party last December.”
Since she makes a living on camera, Michelle’s self esteem suffered.
“But I also worried over what it meant for me and the rest of my life. I felt so ugly. I had a hole cut out of my face and I was so self-conscious about it I didn’t even want to leave the house.”
Michelle wound up having reconstructive surgery to cover the hole in her cheek, which has since healed, but understandably, the emotional wounds from what she went through take more time.
Now that she is in good health, the mother and wife (of English businessman Simon Jordan, 54) is able to enjoy life with their 2-year-old boy, whom she most certainly slathers with sunscreen out in the sun.
It may have been a very harsh lesson, but now Michelle can continue using her platform to help others get more serious about skin care prevention.
Protecting Your Skin from the Sun
Unfortunately, as we know, the sun is not your friend. For most people, there are simple ways to significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. We asked dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman to provide the top five ways to protect your skin from skin cancer. Turns out, most of her recommendations are really simple to implement, and could save your life.
- Avoid sun during peak hours – This means from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It doesn’t mean you should never go outside during the middle of the day, but make sure you’re protected when you do venture outdoors.
- Cover your skin and eyes – A wide brim hat and sun glasses will protect your face, the top of your head, your ears, and the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Wear an SPF of 30 or higher – This is easy enough. Plenty of facial moisturizers have SPF built into them. Dr. Engelman also recommends reapplying every few hours, or after excessive sweating or swimming.
- Get an annual skin check – You can check your own skin for anything that looks out of the ordinary, but you should still get a yearly check to make sure you didn’t miss anything. If you do happen to notice anything out of the ordinary in between checks, schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about it ASAP — it is always worth it to make sure.
- Avoid tanning beds – This one is obvious … but just a reminder, tanning beds can significantly increase your risk of developing melanoma. If you feel like you’re just too pale, Dr. Engelman recommends a sunless tanner. “There’s absolutely no benefit to going to a tanning bed,” Dr. Engelman said.