Tennessee native Lisa Pace reports she has had a total of eighty six cancer removal surgeries, and she’s only forty three years old. All of the surgeries have been to remove skin cancer. She says that her use of tanning beds over the last few decades is mostly to blame.
Women being diagnosed with skin cancer is actually very common. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is the third most diagnosed type of cancer in women that are under 49 years old. As much as people are warned to wear hats and sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays, sometimes the only way to really get that point across is by hearing a skin cancer survival story. Pace says that’s why she is telling her story. She wants to spread awareness about the dangers of skin cancer.
Pace has been fighting against cancer for nearly twenty years. She has had melanoma and two other types of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. She told her story through a series of online posts for the American Academy of Dermatology and Coolibar, which is a clothing company. She said that her mother always made her wear sunscreen as a child, so the problem did not start until she was in her late teens and early twenties. During her young adulthood, Pace says she was addicted to indoor tanning salons. She began that habit in high school, and began to use the salons more than once a week throughout her time in college. Tanning salons were new and trendy at the time and all her friends were doing it as well.
Pace first became aware of a problem when she noticed a white spot on her left cheek. When it started to get bigger over a period of a few weeks, she decided to go to the doctor to have it examined. She says that visit “changed her life.” The doctors were forced to cut off a portion of her face to remove the cancer.
The Tennessee woman was surprised when her doctors told her that her cancer was probably caused by her excessive use of tanning salons. She did not realize that the tanning beds could cause cancer. Pace said she felt upset because she could not believe this was something she had done to herself. All she wanted was a “bronze look.”
Since that first visit to the dermatologist, she has had to go to the doctor over and over again for skin cancer removals. Sometimes they are simple procedures that require only one cut. But other times, they are more complicated and need multiple cuts to make sure all the cancer in a particular area is removed.
Pace currently works as a massage therapist in her home state of Tennessee. Through her online posts, she wants to make others aware of the dangers of tanning beds and too much sunlight. She knows she was very fortunate to have her cancers found early, but not everyone can be so lucky. Her wish is that young people learn from the mistakes she made as a teenager.
Make sure to always wear sunscreen and a hat, get your annual skin check ups, and say no to tanning beds!