CHICAGO (CBS) — Three million people each year are diagnosed with the most common form of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma.
The cause: exposure to the sun. CBS 2’s Kris Gutierrez has the story of one woman whose face will never be the same.
When the days are warm, Chicagoans love to soak up the sun. But if you ask Raquel Guckeen, she’ll tell you it’s not worth it.
“I know I’m not going to look like this forever,” she says.
But every day, the 44-year-old must face reality — and her scars.
She used to love tanning.
“I was once a teenage girl that wanted to tan because it made me feel beautiful,” she says. “I used to think, ‘It will never happen to me.’ Well, here I am. It did.”
Raquel has been diagnosed with skin cancer, caused by exposure to the sun. She hopes her story will help prevent future cases.
“In high school before prom I wanted to tan, before a gymnastics meet I would go tanning in a tanning booth,” she recalls.
Recently, Raquel noticed a scar-like spot on her nose. It led to a drastic surgery in which surgeons removed a significant portion of the top of her nose.
Raquel had basal cell carcinoma.
“We’re seeing more and more patients in their 30s, even some patients in their late 20s, with the basal cell,” dermatologist Ron Sulewski tells CBS 2.
To repair the damage, Raquel received what’s known as a forehead flap, or skin transplanted from her forehead.
“That was a tough day,” she says.
And she was still facing another surgery to shape her new nose.
Experts suggest spray tans as a safe alternative because those carefree days at the beach or in a tanning bed may come with a devastating consequence.
Raquel’s second reconstruction is finished. Her face looks much better, but she still has scars. She hopes all of us will learn from her experience.
The Skin Cancer Foundation offers information about basal cell carcinoma.