#Wildlife

I Was 28 When I Found Out That I Had Skin Cancer. Here’s What It Taught Me

kate 6

Like many people, I grew up loving the sun, beach and being outdoors. I craved that feeling of being warmed by the sun and having it bronze my fair skin. As a teen, I never thought basking in the sun and tanning my skin could be so destructive. When I was younger, it was all about just being tan. For me, that meant not always wearing sunscreen. Little did I know how stupid I was being.

There is a very unsexy side of sunbathing and tanning beds. And I can tell you firsthand that not caring for your skin is a big mistake. I hope that you can learn from my lesson rather than go through it yourself.

My countless hours in the sun, many of which were unprotected, caught up with me eventually. What’s crazy, too, is that I didn’t even realize it at first. I had this dry, red, scaly patch on my forehead. Even though the spot had been developing for years, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was just from touching my face or adjusting my hair. I kept it hidden under makeup and would just go about my day. Then I was home over Thanksgiving with my family and wearing no makeup.

My brother, a physician, said, “What is that on your forehead?” I remember him examining me like doctors do, and he said very seriously, “I think you have skin cancer.” With a bit of attitude I said, “I don’t have skin cancer!”

I then went to my dermatologist the following week to find out for sure. They took a biopsy, and sure enough, I had skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma). I couldn’t believe it. I thought that only happened to people who were much older than me. I definitely was not prepared to have my head sliced open and cancer taken out of my face.

A week later, my dermatologist, Dr. Jaffe, performed Mohs surgery to remove the cancer. My forehead was cut open about the size of a quarter to remove the tumor. He told me that it was imperative that I had it taken care of right away.

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Riverchase Dermatology, Naples, Florida

Dr. Jaffe said that the jury is out on whether my skin cancer was due to sun exposure at a young age, a burn, or just chronic sun exposure over a number of years that made me predisposed. He performs about 10 Mohs surgeries a day and told me that this specialized treatment offers the highest cure rate but only if detected and treated early. His patients are normally in their mid-60s. I was 28.

The good news is that skin cancer is preventable and curable when caught early. Of course, we all want to be outside and enjoying ourselves, but you have to be smart about the exposure you get.

So, let me be your lesson. Don’t wait until you have skin cancer before you protect yourself and wear sunblock. Do it now!

I don’t like the scar on my forehead for vanity reasons and because I get my picture taken and appear on TV for a living. Sometimes, photographers ask me if I got into an accident and bumped my head because I have so much scar tissue in the area where I had surgery. Other people tell me they can’t even see it. On the flip side, my scar represents what I went through and definitely keeps me in check. Every day when I look in the mirror, it’s a reminder to put on my sunscreen.

I don’t want to scare people. I want to inspire them. Wearing sunscreen and protective clothing in the sun and limiting your exposure to the sun isn’t scary. It’s smart. It’s responsible. I wasn’t smart or responsible in the sun growing up. I hope others can learn from my mistakes and be inspired to protect their skin, make regular appointments with their doctors, and stay healthy.

Even if just one person benefits from reading my story, it makes my headaches from nerve damage during surgery and my scar worth it. I wish I could have read a story like this when I was a teenager. It probably would have hit home a lot harder than just my mother saying, “Wear your sunscreen.”

To help prevent skin cancer, take the following precautions:

Wear chemical-free sunblock containing zinc and titanium every day.
Wear a hat and protective clothing.
Avoid being outside during peak sun hours.
Seek shade if possible.
Get an annual skin check by a dermatologist.
Remember not to be afraid to go to the doctor if you notice something changing on your skin or that a mole has grown or changed in color. The sooner you see a doctor, the less likely it will be bad news.

Story originally published on mindbodygreen.com

A Simple Exercise For Deep Healing And Transformation

IMG_5718 The Pagoda at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Cabuya, Costa Rica

I have attended several spiritual seminars and retreats this past year, and the biggest take away from them all is the power of sharing your truth with others. There is so much strength and wisdom in being vulnerable and authentic.

When I share my story and speak my truth, my life is transformed. Trauma and sadness from my past lose power over me. I feel lighter as the tight grip of shame is released.

Opening up and listening to others also allows me to see how much we are all alike–we all long for the freedom to be ourselves, to be loved and accepted in a compassionate, judgement-free environment. We are all insecure in some way, we all battle with not feeling good enough, we all want to love ourselves deeper and more effortlessly. We want financial freedom, peace of mind, and to know that we matter.

Deep healing and transformation occurred for me through journaling and sharing truth. The exercise of writing down the story I’m ready to release, and replacing it with the story I’m choosing to create has proven to be life-altering for me.

I invite you to take some quiet time for yourself, and do the following exercise with me:

The story I release is…

For example, I wrote: I have so many sad stories when it comes to men. There’s no need to rehash them here. They’ve lived in my bones for years. I’m healing those sad stories.

In Costa Rica, I released all that sadness, and the stories I created around these men that aren’t based in reality, but fear:

Am I good enough?

Am I pretty enough?

When I accomplish more, I will be worthy of him. He will notice me, and want to be with me.

I’m not skinny enough for him.

It was my fault.

Why do I insist on loving men who do not love me?

 

This is where you get all your sadness, anger, disappointment and trauma out on paper. Take as long as you need. Get it all out. No editing needed. Just write. Cry. Release.

Once you are finished, you will now turn the page in your journal, and write the NEW story you are creating for yourself.

I wrote:

It all sounds so silly now.

It has nothing to do with them.

It was all happening for me.

It made me who I am today, and gosh I love that person. I light up a room. I tell the truth. I am beautiful just because. Any man would be lucky to be with me. I’ve done the work. I’ve worked my shit out. I own who I am. I have so much love to give. I know because I’ve given it so freely to others my entire life.

Now, it is my time. I’ve learned to give this ridiculously fierce love to myself. I am strong. I am powerful. I am happy and in love with myself. That’s how I know I am ready for my papi. Not so he can complete me, or allow me to live up to some silly societal standard, but because I deserve to have mirrored back to me the love I so freely give.

It’s time. I’m ready. Thank you for all the lessons. Thank you Raf and Sam (my deceased loved ones) for watching over me. I release you now, too. You are free to go, and let me love someone who truly loves themselves–only HE is the perfect match for me.

I love you, Kate 🙂 xoxo

I shared this story with the 14 other women on my SISTERHOOD retreat last week in Costa Rica. I sobbed the whole way through. It was a huge release to get it all out, be my most raw, vulnerable self, and call in the new story and life I am consciously creating.

The day after I returned home, I met the kind of man I have been praying for–the man I called in during my retreat. We had a beautiful first date the following night. I could easily project fear onto the relationship because of my past, but because I released all of that and now choose joy and love, I am able to relax, enjoy the moment, trust and expect miracles.

I wish the same for you. It is your choice. You have all the power. All you have to do is step into it.

IMG_5743 The Sanctuary at Two Rivers where I wrote the story I was ready to release.

 

 

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