Centennial mom has 3 surgeries to remove skin cancers in 2 years

3 million diagnosed with skin cancer every year

DENVER - About three million people a year are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. every year. One of them is Heather Sabatier.

"I would very often, burn, peel and then start again," said Sabatier.

She said she didn't think about sunscreen in the past at all. 

"I mean i wasn't one of those crazy people who put on the baby oil and the tin foil to try to get tan, but I didn't pay much attention to how much sun exposure I had when I was younger," Sabatier said.

Those years added up and that's why Heather wears a hat and sunglasses any time she's outdoors.

"A year ago, right here on my forehead and then another one six months ago right here on my cheek," Sabatier said as she pointed out her two scars. The one on her cheek is still visible.

Doctors diagnosed Sabatier with basal cell carcinoma.

"It's a slow growing tumor and over time it can get larger," said Dr. Joel Cohen with AboutSkin Dermatology.

The cancer can start as small as a dot on your hand. While not deadly like Melanoma, Dr. Cohen said it can cause damage.

"Basil cell carcinoma destruction is usually local where that penetration into muscle and down to the bone can occur. It could threaten the eye in other areas," said Dr. Cohen.

"Believe me, you don't want to end up with scars," warned Sabatier.

To make sure her kids don't go through what she has gone through, she makes them put on sunscreen anytime they're outdoors.

"The greatest gift I could give them is to teach them about skin care and the greatest gift they can give me is to stay healthy," said Sabatier.

Some parents have asked when is it safe to start applying sunscreen on their kids. Dr. Cohen said sunscreen isn't recommended for babies under six months but there are products out there specifically made for kids. He said the ingredients in them can be found in makeup among other things and they're FDA approved.

For more skin protection tips, AboutSkin Dermatology


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