You guys know her, you love her, we at TSC all LOVE HER – Parker Miller is back.
She is the go-to for so many things at The Skinny Confidential. She keeps calendars (and people!) up to date with deadlines, collabs, the HIM & HER podcast, and always has everyone’s back. She is organized, calm, incredible at her job AND smart as a whip.
Today she is here to share her skin cancer story with us. YES, skin cancer can happen to a young person. That is why protecting every single area of your body from harmful rays is trés important, guys. It’s the whole reason we’re always pimping out SPF, obnoxious visors, driving gloves, HUGE sunglasses, etc.
Let’s welcome back Parker so we can all learn to be super diligent with our sun protection.
I was diagnosed with amelanotic melanoma on June 18th, 2020. A few weeks prior I had asked my dad, who is a skin cancer surgeon, to take a look at a mole on my arm. I am very fair and have a million moles on my body, but as the daughter of a doctor who specializes in skin cancer, I had spent enough time in his office watching him take care of patients to be scared into worshiping SPF.
While I was mortified by his full coverage sun outfits when I was younger, I never went into tanning beds, I remembered to reapply sunscreen, I spent most of my time under an umbrella, and I even have a small portion of my wardrobe devoted to UPF clothing. The mole on my arm looked like the other moles on my body, except for a slight reddish tint.
Growing up with my dad, I knew to monitor my skin on my own in addition to visiting the dermatologist every six months for full body skin checks since I am so fair. I had started taking pictures of a mole on my right arm in the summer of 2019 because I felt in my gut that there was something different about this one; however, I visited my dermatologist in LA twice that year, and she took a long look at it both times and let me know there was nothing to worry about, so I forgot about it.
It wasn’t until I happened to return home to Baltimore because of the pandemic and, upon seeing my dad in his full sun coverage outfits again, was reminded of it. As I got ready to head back to Los Angeles in the spring of 2020, I couldn’t shake a weird feeling that I should just get it biopsied. I told my dad about it, and he reminded me that I know my body best and that he would be happy to biopsy it before I left; it was 2 weeks after that when he called me from his office and said I needed to come in for surgery immediately that morning.
I had spent so much time in my dad’s office growing up, I loved sitting in on surgeries and watching him work (it is very much a form of art), so as soon as I was diagnosed, I knew the drill well for what would happen next. I was always afraid of getting skin cancer (we got to hear the horror stories every night at the dinner table), but I never thought in a million years it would actually happen to me.
My surgery that day was followed by visits to a general dermatologist, an eye exam to make sure there weren’t any unusual moles behind my eyes (this is rare, but it can happen!), followed by even more dermatologist appointments every few weeks for a long time, and a few more surgeries. (Michael & Lauryn were beyond supportive during this time — they were always checking in on me & asking what they could do to help & Michael connected me with experts he knew of who were working on new advancements in the cancer realm.)
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma is most likely to return within the first 5 years of treatment, but studies show that it can return 10, 15 and even 25 years after the first treatment. The best defenses are consistent, lifelong skin exams and UV protection.
I have rounded up some of the tips that I learned from my dad — hopefully they help you practice safe sun all year round.
6 Tips For Staying Safe in the Sun:
♡ Wear sunscreen every single day, throughout the year, even when it’s cloudy. Here are some of the sunscreens I use:
♡ What to look for during your monthly SELF skin exams (according to the Mayo Clinic):
+ A large brownish spot with darker speckles.
+ A mole that changes in color, size or feel or that bleeds.
+ A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black.
+ A painful lesion that itches or burns.
+ An “ugly duckling” mole.
The type of cancer I had — amelanotic melanoma — is an “aggressive type of skin cancer that doesn’t produce the pigment melanin, which gives most melanomas their dark appearance. As a result, they don’t look like other melanomas. Instead, they may appear skin-colored, pink or even reddish, with gray or brownish edges” (Cancer Center).
They are much harder to spot, which is why you have to be your own advocate and push to get things biopsied if anything feels “off”. My dad applied the “ugly duckling sign” to my mole – which is another warning sign of melanoma. The “ugly duckling sign” is the idea that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. Because my mole was slightly more red than all of my other moles, that is what made it stand out.
♡ Go see a dermatologist at least once a year, but if you have fair skin, I would think about going every 6 months. Make sure they check your scalp, the bottom of your feet, and your nails too (don’t wear nail polish when you go!). Take pictures of your moles and review & compare them with your dermatologist during each visit — this is the best way to document any changes in size, color, shape, etc.
♡ Reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours — especially after swimming or sweating. Little exposure to sun everyday really adds up too — like walking to your job or car, working out outside, etc., so it’s really important to continually reapply each time you go outside. While liquid sunscreen/sunblock is best as it guarantees full coverage more, I like to bring Supergoop (Re)setting Refreshing Mist SPF 40 with me everywhere I go so I can reapply quickly over my makeup throughout the day.
♡ Wear sun protective clothing.
+ I never leave the house without a hat — sometimes they are obnoxiously big. I love the Paloma Sun Hat or The Cove from Lack of Color, RIVER GUATEMALAN PALM from Gigi Pip, but for super added protection, go for something with UPF in it like the Women’s Cyd Travel Beach Hat UPF 50+ from Coolibar.
+ TSC BOUGIE DRIVING GLOVES. Perfect if you don’t want to lather up on sunscreen or stain your clothing on your drive to work.
+ Something basic like the Cicely – Quarter Zip Mock Neck Rash Guard from mott50
♡ Avoid the sun & never go in a tanning bed, duh.
Every day, we have choices that we can make to stay out of the sun. If you are at an outdoor sporting event, you can opt to stand in the shade; if you are at the beach, try to stay under an umbrella whenever you can; and always try to keep sun protective clothing on hand.
Self tanning products I use:
Thank you Parker for sharing your story. See guys, the sun can be super scary. We’re all about a little morning light, movement and hydration, but you need to be careful with your incidental sun exposure. If you want to learn more about this Dr. Dennis Gross and Lauryn talk about it in this podcast episode.
Peace, love & SPF.
x, The Skinny Confidential team.
+ stalk these skincare myths.
++ check out Lauryn’s sauna/cold plunge protocol here.