Angela Froboese: Basal Cell Carcinoma Survivor
My story is a little different. This summer I unexpectedly had four people in my family pass away the same week. I believe because of that stress I kept picking at scratches on my arm without even thinking about it. After a few weeks of my arm not healing, I had a few coworkers mention that I might want to go get it checked out.
Two days before my dermatologist visit, I had a pimple develop at my temple. It kind of hurt and truthfully, I thought, ah man, the doctor is going to think I am a teenager with this pimple. So, I head to the doctor for my arm and they tell me to undress. Wait, what? Why do I need to get naked just to have my arm checked? That scared me just a bit because I realized I had no idea what I should have expected. The doctor began checking all over my body and thank god, my arm was fine, and they gave me some cream to heal it. I was relieved that I was just being a hypochondriac. However, then the doctor checks the pimple and says “Well, we need to test this out”. Wait, for a zit? Sure enough, she comes back and says it’s the basal cell cancer.
Now I have always been a pasty person, and therefore I have used sunscreen my entire life. So, it made no sense how that could happen. I’ve only been to a tanning bed twice in my early 20’s and I usually wear hats when I’m coaching. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized, I am not good at reapplying the sunscreen. Being a softball coach, I am out in the sun every day for at least three hours. I also spend most weekends recruiting at tournaments. Most of these places do not have shade for you to stay under. The more I talked to the doctors the more I realized that just putting the sunscreen on once was not enough. Also, if you are going to use the spray, you must reapply that even more. Awesome, all things I kind of knew but refused to pay attention to.
Fast forward a few weeks to the day before I am scheduled to get the cancer removed and Kristen from The Shade Project comes to do a speech. Those that knew what I was going through paid a lot closer attention and of course kept reminding me that at least this skin cancer was the least serious one! All of that was true but I was still scared to death. All I could think about was that I was about to get part of my face cut and get to do follow-ups every three months or so. I went from rarely having to go to a doctor to making permanent appointments for the rest of my life.
The removal itself was not as painful as I thought it would be. However, the smell of the burning flesh is something that will always stick with me. I was lucky that it only took two attempts to get it. I know many others that took seven or more tries. I have also started paying closer attention to my skin. Recently, I had another pimple pop up on the other side of my face that hurt and didn’t seem right. I went in immediately and the doctors used the liquid nitrogen to freeze it off. I have a few more spots that keep coming up and I will keep going in!
I now feel the sun a lot more when I am outside. I make sure I am constantly reapplying sunscreen. I remind other coaches to do the same while out recruiting and of course, I remind my team as well. I think the biggest thing for me to say is to pay attention. I was dismissing a “pimple” that hurt and didn’t feel like others that I’ve had. It took a terrible week this summer for me to go get checked and it has prevented me from what potentially could have been a terrible future.