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Today’s show is about a topic I know NOTHING about.
What is Melanoma?
First of all, it’s rare for a child to have it. Even someone in their younger teens isn’t common. Parents are more protective at younger ages. As we get older, there’s a perception that “tan is beautiful”. It becomes more about appearance and less about taking care of ourselves.
Melanoma is skin cancer.
There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. BCC is the most common and the least dangerous. There’s melanoma (which is mostly found in moles).
Jenn was living in Chicago at the time.
She was getting ready after showering and noticed something on her right shoulder. One day she became aware of it and as the days passed, she became more and more aware. Luckily, Jenn had done a class presentation on cancer in college and she knew the signs to look for. Deep down, she knew it wasn’t fine. It was a mole that had two colors and a black dot in the center.
Through this experience, Jenn has had to learn to advocate for herself. It’s her job as the person living in her body to be the best advocate.
It’s Just Skin Cancer
On her blog, Jenn talks about the struggles of cancer. One of those struggles being that people downplay skin cancer. It’s something that some people can simply “scrape off and move on from”, but that’s not always the case. Cancer is debilitating and it’s life changing.
More people die from skin cancer from going to a tanning bed than people die from lung cancer from smoking. You can’t buy a pack of cigarettes without a surgeon general’s warning, but society doesn’t put a warning on harmful tanning beds. Even gyms try to build memberships by promoting unlimited tanning— which is ironic that a health and wellness facility would promote this unhealthy lifestyle.
It really boils down to lack of education.
Cancer Changes You
When you come out on the other side, you don’t know who you are. Jenn felt lost for about 3 years.
It took time for her to find things that brought her joy and added true value to her life. She doesn’t always know who she is, but that doesn’t mean she’s lost. She’s still Jenn, but her values have shifted. She gravitated towards jobs where she can help people. She’s found purpose, fulfillment, and is working to invest in the things that she cares about.
What Advice Would You Give Yourself?
Don’t take life so seriously. Figure out what is most important to you and put emphasis there. You don’t have to hit milestones at certain points— do what makes you happy. We’re here to enjoy life, we don’t know how much time we have. Go after what brings you the most joy.
Jenn is a 3 time melanoma survivor who is passionate about skin cancer prevention and melanoma awareness. In addition to jennpatrice.com, she’s also a speaker, author, and host of the Company You Keep podcast. If more people treated important topics, passion projects, and things they care about the way Jenn does— the world would be a better place.
Find Jenn on Instagram