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March 28, 2023

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Tory's Skin Scare: Date with a Dermatologist

I’m not one to share photos without a trace of make-up (except for some must-have eyeliner), but this is a bit different.

After many months of worrying about two teeny spots that have bugged me since appearing out of nowhere on my face (and getting worse over time, not better), I finally decided to get checked out. My dermatologist didn’t like them either: given the irregular borders, odd coloring and asymmetrical form, she called them precancerous and promptly removed them. (Two on my face and one on my shoulder—gotta love the arrows created by Michelle!) I’m not out of the woods yet: we’re watching a few other spots and waiting on lab results.

So my message to all of you: get your skin checked out now and lather on the super-strength sunscreen even if you don’t think you need it.

Share you skin-saving experiences with everyone here because peace of mind with our health enables us to perform our very best.


  1. Terry Turner

    Hello Tory,

    i am very glad you had your spots checked out. I had an irregularly shaped spot on my shoulder in back,(hard for me to see) and my best friend saw it last year and said it was suspicious looking. I was unemployed and having no health insurance, I waited until June until my benefits from a new job became effective. Sure enough, the dermatologist removed it and the biopsy came back as something that had to be further excavated. The cells were just about to turn, so I was very fortunate that my best friend saw it when we were swimming and urged me to have it checked out. I had a huge chunk of flesh removed by a dermatologic surgeon, followed up by blood work and a chest x-ray. I am fair and healthy and cannot wait to get the stitches removed. The bottom line is to have your skin checked and wear sun screen. Finding these things early can literally save your life. Thank you for alerting others to this insidious cancer. These spots are more than cosmetic and I think people need to know this fact. Of course, I may have exacerbated the condition by cooking myself outside as a teenager with baby oil until I was well done, but we all know better now. I had the surgery the day after my 56th birthday and it truly was a gift of life, as is my best friend! Be well, Tory. Thanks, Terry.

  2. AleataI

    Thank you for sharing about the spots that you had checked out. I get checked regularly and will have a full visual body scan next month. It’s the things we don’t see that can hurt us too. A family member had a little white-head looking thing on his lip. Turned out to be squamous cell cancer and he had half of his upper lip removed, grafted a new lip by turning his lower lip upside down and attaching it to the upper. After two months the lips were separated and now he is happy to be cancer free and kissable once more. This is the kind of cancer than has hidden roots or tendrils and can go to the brain. So, remember to have the top of your head checked out, especially if you don’t wear a hat. How many of us put sunscreen on our head. I’m fair like you, but it is not only important for me but for darker skinned people too to get checked. It can save your life. I came back from a cool wade at the beach today and say mothers with little children who had nasty looking sunburns. How unfortunate to be so uninformed. Best wishes for good results.

  3. Erin

    Living in FL, you should get checked annually. I’m 28 and have had an irregular spot removed in the middle of my back (right where you have trouble getting the sunscreen when applying it yourself!) even though the biopsy came back normal. Why chance it??

    Dr. Bondar at FL Westcoast Skin and Cancer Center sees me regularly, and he referred me to Dr. Greenwald for the surgery, which was quick, easy, and covered by insurance!

  4. Hi! I applaud you for your writing, sharing, reaching out and be proactive. My fingers are crossed that your results are good and know, first hand, that the waiting game is the most stressful part.

    I too have several spots that are regularly checked and scars from all the different techniques available to biopsy and remove pre-cancerous spots. I lost my brother to melanoma and deeply believe he would still be here if he was checked early vs. waiting and postponing.

    Reluctantly I admit I am one that thought that if I sunbathed enough, all of my freckles would merge and then I’d have a fabulous tan. Now I know that we are not born with freckles and they are sun damage!! I am happy to say that I am staying ahead of the scares by doing self checks often. My dermatologist checks me thoroughly every year and I go in for “spot” checks or concerns all year long. I am currently using a new product daily that reduces sun damage AND helps with fine lines, etc. which are mostly a result of the sun (only 20% is genetic…. who knew?). My derm said my skin looks better than she has ever seen it and some of the spots we’ve been keeping an eye on are going away! PHEW! I am happy to share the product information with anyone interested. It has changed my life.

    Prevention, like most health issues, is the key. My advice is to become aware of the A-B-C’s of your spots and subscribe to the Skin Cancer Awareness site for accurate and ongoing information. Be sure that your sunscreen is used daily (even when it is cloudy) and make sure that you are using something with UVA AND UVB coverage.

    Please continue to share your story, strongly encourage anyone to stay away from tanning beds, use sunscreen no matter WHAT your skin type or tone, get your Vit. D and feel free to get in touch with me. This has become a passion to get the word out.

  5. Kirsten

    …and use natural sun block. This is typically a zinc or titanium dioxide base which reflects the sun’s rays. The Environmental Working Group has a link to Skin Deep, which is a “green” website that rates personal care products based upon ingredient safety and environmental impact. Lots if fun. You can check out the products you use and learn a lot about ingredients you can’t pronounce.

    Bottom line~ your skin is a sponge and it absorbs the good and the bad ingredients and there are a lot of sun screens on the market that have a lot of bad ingredients.

  6. Kudos to you Tory for sharing your experience with us because sun damage not only is a major contributor to aging skin, hyperpigmentation and melasma, which causes uneven skin tone and dullness, but skin cancer is a killer and I personally had a good friend who was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma and she passed away within 6 months. It was shocking and tragic for this young woman to die from the insiduous disease.

    Many of us grew up in the “Coppertone Generation” and we slathered on the oil. My best friend and I used to use the reflectors to maximize the rays. Now she is one of the world’s most famous dermatologists and a huge advocate for protecting yourself from sun exposure. She is Dr. Kathy Fields, one of the doctors who created Proactiv, and now the brand Rodan + Fields Dermatologists, which is committed to delivering products to the consumer addressing “dermatology at home”. She has also created great products to turn back the clock on aging skin and sun damage. Order them at and visit my blog at to learn more. BTW, she has also published a best-selling book about skincare “Write Your Skin a Prescription for Change” which should be in everyone’s library. Order it at

  7. Hi Tory,

    I just read you newsletter and the article about your skin. Anything like that is scarry !
    I immediately referred to my trusty book written for the public, Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils. Much medical research has been and is being done on the effectiveness of essential oils .

    There has been laboratory research on the effects of a constituent in sandlewood essential oil, alpha-santalol, that was found to induce apoptosis (death ) in human skin cancer cells ( Kaur et al,. 2005 ); inhibit skin cancer development in mice ( Dwivedi et al., 2005 ); prevent skin-tumor formation caused by ultraviolet-b radiation in mice ( Dwivedi et al., 2006 ); delay and decrease the incidence and multiplicity of skin tumor ( papilloma ) developments in mice ( Dwivedi et al.,2003 );and pre-treatment with alpha-santalol before UVB radiation significantly reduced skin tumor developemtn and multiplicity and induced proapoptotic and tumor suppressing proteins ( Arasada et al., 2008 ).

    Oral sandlewood oil use enhanced GST activity ( a protein in cell membranes that can help eliminate toxins ) and acid-soluble SH levels. This suggests a possible chemo-preventive action on carcinogenesis ( Banernee et al., 1993 ).

    We don’t recommend using anything other than doTERRA’s oils internally. Most if not all other products on the market have been compromised in quality and purity and are not intended to take internally.

    Boswellic acid, a constituent in frankincense was found to prevent and inhibit invasion and metastasis of melanoma and fibrosarcoma cells ( Zhao et al.,2005 ). You can take doTERRA’s frankincense internally as well as apply it topically.

    A study conducted by Hakim et al., 2000, showed a “dose dependent relationship between citrus peel consumption and a lower degree of squamous cell carcinoma ( SCC ) of the skin. The constituent d-limonene is high in citrus peel which is where the citrus essential oils are extracted from.

    There are literally thousands of research papers on essential oils. You can find many of them on I have no medical background, but quite a few doctors are beginning to be aware of essential oils and are starting to recommend them to their patients.

    Wishing you the absolute best wellness !


  8. Karen Clements


    Thanks for sharing your story.

    I too had some flaws around my eye and they were small tumors and needed to be removed. Luckily, they were benign. They were very small (like a black head) but when something doesn’t look right, go to the dermatologist and have them check. I also had a white vitamin deficiency on under my eye and that was removed as well. They were all little tumors.

    I also had an ugly blemish on my stomach and I had that checked too and it was skin cancer. I grew up in southern CA getting burned all the time and doing all the wrong things growing up as a teenager (Coppertone Generation like Victoria) and years later it grew into something that was not a good thing. It was about an inch wide/deep and would have kept growing. It was Basal Cell Carcinoma. They removed it and now I am cancer free, but it was scary.

    All these lessons that I learned was to check your body out and if something doesn’t look right, have a professional look at it.

    Take care of your body and eat healthy as I have learned that eating fruits and vegetables will help reduce the risk of disease. I found something that bridges the gap between what you should eat and what you actually eat every day. I knew my family was not getting enough fruits and vegetables and I found a way that I have more energy, my health is improved and I am a regular girl. I love my Juice Plus.

    Make sure you have protection on your body (sun screen) at all times and take care of yourself for your family. Aren’t you worth it?

  9. With so many skincare products and “solutions” on the market today, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to choose. I recommend, if you have a concern, make an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible and glad you did Tory!

    Because of my personal story, my passion for creating increased awareness of the dullness and damage from the sun, a family history of sun damage and being fair skinned, I chose to accept the gift of partnering with Rodan + Fields Dermatology. The opportunity to change my skin and change my life was appealing on many levels personally and financially.

    These Stanford trained doctors are passionate about what they do and want to bring dermatology to the masses with their new company. You may have come across these products when first offered at high-end retail stores in conjunction with Estee’ Lauder. They receive media coverage every month in places such as Allure, Women’s Health, O, Real Simple, etc.

    Now these products are available at: with the support and advice of nurses on staff to answer any questions you may have.

    Taking control of your health is important and I agree with the Doctor’s belief that it is never too late to change your skin’s destiny, whether you are 18 or 81 or in between! Skin, it’s a beautiful thing, wear it well.

  10. Tory,
    I hear you sister and how timely, too! Just two weeks ago I finally went to see a dermatologist here in Tampa about a spot on my ankle. I was reluctant because I have no health insurance but I knew that it was better to catch it early. She didn’t like the look of the spot so she did a little cutting, has sent it off to the lab and then did a full body exam. That visit was $245 as a self pay and I’m still waiting to get the lab bill. It’s been two weeks without results so I will call to double check. The thing that really got me was that this doctor knew that I did not have insurance yet she prescribed an antibiotic cream that was $44 at CVS drugstore. I, also, had a little rash that she said was caused by heat and she prescribed another cream that was $144.60 at CVS! Seriously, what world does this woman live in? Needless to say I came home and put some Walgreens antibiotic cream that I’ve had for years on my ankle. I kept it clean with Hydrogen Peroxide and it’s healing nicely. For the rash, I tried some Hydrocortisone Cream that I had around here and it cleared it up just fine. Who can afford to seek medical attention anymore?
    I’ll send you positive thoughts that your results will return with good news. Thanks for sharing your experience with us all.

  11. Thank you for putting your personal story where it can inspire others. There is no substitute for a trained eye when it comes to skin cancer detection. My medical/dermatology practice is mostly skin cancer and I am continually amazed by how subtle skin cancers can look. I also encourage my dermatology patients to have full skin exams when they come into my office because I very often find cancers they didn’t even know they had.

    The bottom line: at a minimum every fair skinned person who has had much sun exposure needs an annual full skin exam after the age of 40. Plus, anyone with a changing or suspicious skin growth should have it checked by an expert. There are many great web resources for learning the signs of skin cancer and I encourage everyone to do a little research, learn what to look for on their own skin and do monthly self skin exams. Have someone you love look at your back too.

    Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist

  12. Nancy

    So glad to hear that your medical concerns have been addressed. I had a similar experience recently with a small growth on my scalp that turned out to be basel cell. Mine was taken off with a little more invasiveness than it sounds like you experienced but it’s GONE and my scalp is healing. I’m a Boomer who grew up baking in the sun and tan easily but it finally caught up with me. I’ve never had a skin cancer screening until 6 weeks ago. So my advice is start screenings early, use sun screen and hats! Good luck with your open lab tests. You’re in my thoughts. Nancy

  13. Madeline

    I take care of my skin by keeping out of the sun. I was never a good sun worshipper. Infact, I was one of those people that used to use a sun reflector until I found out they were dangerous, for example, how you can fall asleep in the sun and end of baking yourself to death.

    I also take care of my skin by cleansing my face each night with luke warm water and non-scented soap.

  14. So glad you were had this done & I did the same on Tuesday with my dear Dr. Martha Sykes! My dear aunt passed away at only 30 from skin cancer, so I get checked almost monthly and have some type of precancerous type of item removed! It is always a good idea to discuss this and talk about it. Just recently I found out that a young lady on our boat had never used sunscreen since she never got burned. Well I was livid and did not bite my tongue. Hopefully she will come around one day before it is too late. We can never be too loud about the importance of taking care of our skin and you can see that I believe that from my blog

  15. Rebecca B.

    I HATE the waiting too, but it sounds like they caught it early. Good for you.
    My physician found a mole that looked “funny” on my back. She sent me to a dermatologist to have it excised. Unfortunately, you know it is serious when the actual Dr. calls you with the lab results. It was melanoma, the most serious level of skin cancer. So I went to another Dermatologist for the major excision. Put the tips of your pointer fingers together and the tips of your thumbs. See the shape, kind of like a tear drop? That’s the size of the chunk of skin they cut out of my back. 35 shots of something to numb it up through all the layers. Disgusting smells as they cauterized it. Skin tugging as they stitched several layers of skin together. That’s enough to “cure” you of wanting to bake in the sun again. (We grew up in LA and South Florida). Now I use hats, shirts and sunscreen like a crazy woman!
    I’ve got several two inch scars from silly little moles they called “pre-cancerous” spots. I go for my “annual humiliation” now where a great looking skin cancer specialist scans every square inch of my lovely (post-baby) body for “funny” moles or changed spots. Such fun, but so necessary.
    I’m now a cancer activist volunteering with the American Cancer Society, serving on their local board and helping organize a local Relay for Life event. I make sure I tell all the young people to wear sunscreen, quit tanning and wear a hat. The ACS slogan is “Slip, Slop, Slap” for slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. It will save your life! Who knew you could die from skin cancer? I didn’t and now it is my mission to tell others.
    Thanks so much for sharing your story and for encouraging us to share ours. I’m sure yours is not anything major, but it’s wise to have it checked. Please update us on the results.

  16. Kathy

    Hi when I was 10 or 11 my friend and I went swimming. For 7-8 hours direct sun. Yeah young and stupid, considering I am fair skinned. As you can imagine I had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 25-30 % of my body. My doctors for years fretted with me over wearing maxed amounts of sunscreen. The only problem with that is I burned worse with sunscreen than without(I even burn on a cloudy day!!). We are lucky here there is a covered pool that we can go to. Up until this year, I am now 50, there hasn’t been any issues.
    but last week at my appointment, my Doctor was looking at the sun scars on my back and said he need to scrap one. He had noticed a change in one of them. We got the results back and all is good. I have made it a mission of mine to warn parents, if you let your kids go to a park to swim, make sure someone is there to get them out of the sun every now and then. I had to endure doctors taking a razor and cutting off dead skin, no anesthesia!!!

  17. Cathy

    Having skin checked regularly by a Dermatologist is probably the best way to detect any type of skin cancer. After all, they are professionals and we tend to trust their judgement. But I feel most of these doctors seem “knife happy”. Everyone I know whose been to a dermatologist ends up having something removed off their body (skin). Let’s face it, minor surgeries, are much more profitable than prescribing acne medicine. Especially today since there are many excellent over the counter products that work great. I bet ONLY 1 out of 10,000 people who see a dermatologist actually DO have some type of skin cancer. While I’m not saying to never see a dermatologist, it’s wise to get a second opionion. One opinion should not be good enough to through with any type of surgery. And you may end up with permanent scars. It’s better to be 100% sure before letting any doctor cut you. My best friend was only “accompanying” her husband as he was having a mole biopsied on his arm. And she herself ended up having something removed (the doctor approached her saying “I dont like that freckle on your neck”. The freckle (which was barely visible) ended up being nothing at all. She left his office with a horrible scar covered in a huge bandage, stitches and is in constant pain. The scar got infected and she needed antiobiotic from the ordeal. Please use caution, although these professionals have the M.D title, they are only human. And we all knows, “humans make mistakes”

  18. Syeda

    Thanks for sharing, wish you good luck, I learn a lot from your website all the time.

    God Bless you

  19. I’m so glad to hear you are being proactive! It is so important to just go get these things checked.

    I used to life guard in high school and college so I was in the sun all day long showing lots of skin living in a bathing suit.

    While I had a killer tan, I had no idea the sun could potentially kill me through melanomas, etc. Technically, my skin should look like leather!

    When I got into the workforce, I started using high end skin care that a colleague was selling. Thankfully, it became a life long “just do it” habit.

    My last derm appointment revealed my skin is in great shape in spite of all the exposure…(amen)

    Even better was hearing that I still look like I did in 8th grade from my former classmates at my 30th reunion.

    Hang in there while you wait for your results. I had to wait on results a few years back and time seemed to crawl. I wish you the best possible outcome as well! And thanks for sharing your story on such an important topic….and keep us updated.

    God bless

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