Melanoma doesn’t discriminate by age
The greatest part of starting this company has been meeting all of the people who have responded to our mission, products, design, and voice. We’ve exchanged countless emails, calls, texts, DMs, you name it.
Turns out that many of you, like us, are survivors or family members of survivors of skin cancer, and have been gracious enough to share your stories and experiences with us. It’s been both heartbreaking and inspiring to hear your stories of struggle and loss, but also of triumph. And since it’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to share the story of one of our own, Curren Bell Robbins:
I was diagnosed with skin cancer 2 weeks after my wedding. I was only 27.
On the way back from my sun-soaked Bahamian honeymoon, I happened to be listening to a podcast about a freckle on the host's hand that she wanted checked for skin cancer. "That reminds me," I told myself, “I need to get my birthmark checked out.”
Turns out a mole on my stomach about half the size of my pinky nail changed colors to a black-blue shade, and all of a sudden became scabby. Though I’d been seeing a dermatologist, I had never had a body check before. This would be my first of many, many more.
A few days after the mole was removed for biopsy, my dermatologist called me. “Are you sitting down?” he asked. “It’s melanoma.”
As a teen in the early 2000s, tan was the aesthetic. In the summer, laying out was what I did. I never used sunscreen, only tanning oil.
I believed getting sunburned was just a step in a “turn to tan” process.
When it was too cold to lay out at my home in Connecticut, I visited tanning salons. At my Florida college, I laid out AND visited a local tanning salon that let me ignore the time limit, and purchase unlimited packages for the strongest beds.
I stopped at some point, but the damage was done. Melanoma does not run in my family. I got it from constant over exposure to UV during my teens and early twenties.
Thanks to a Sloane Kettering skin cancer specialist and my beloved dermatologist, I have now been skin cancer free for six years. And these days I protect my skin vigilantly. Not because I choose to, but because I have to.
Central to my skin protection strategy of today is the notion of safely living my life. While I sit under umbrellas when possible, you won’t find me decked in UV-proof clothing. Being outside feels good, walks on the beach feel good, lingering in the pool on a summer day feels good. Life is short and the best way to safely enjoy it is to wear sunscreen. For me, applying sunscreen has to be a process I’m excited about.
Until very recently, however, that’s been a struggle. I don’t think it’s a secret that using most sunscreens is a terrible experience. I’ve tried them ALL, and every day I would just suffer through the white casts, the uncomfortable textures, the terrible smells. It honestly triggered me emotionally - the constant weight and presence of this goop made me feel gross, and was a constant reminder of my skin cancer.
But then one day a happy yellow and blue bottle in a Nantucket shop caught my eye. “The Feel Good Sunscreen”. The store owner told me it was called Bask, it was the only sunscreen her kids let her put on them, and that the founders started it after losing a family member to skin cancer.
I bought a lotion and a spray, took it home, and immediately fell in love. It checks every box I was looking for but couldn’t find in a sunscreen. Bask smells incredible, blends in seamlessly & quickly with absolutely zero white cast, and it’s so lightweight I barely know I’m wearing it.
As a skin cancer survivor, I don’t think I can appropriately express my gratitude for this product. Sunscreen is not an optional part of life for us. And finding Bask has made every day so much more enjoyable.
Finally, living a sun-safe life is a pleasure instead of a chore ❤️
I don’t share my story to frighten anyone. If I could share one piece of advice to everyone out there it would be to not be scared. But you should be smart. And I do want people to know what I didn’t. I have two beautiful children now. It hurts to think that I could have missed this - struck down in my late 20s because of something as trivial as the pressure to be tan.
At the end of the day, though, I’m lucky to be here. Just please don’t leave it to luck. Take control, and take the very simple steps you need to take to avoid this altogether. With a product like Bask, it’s simple and easy. So just wear it! And see your dermatologist once a year.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope it’s one you can share to a friend, a daughter, son, grandchild, or anyone else who could use a first hand account of the consequences of the youthful facade of invincibility. I can guarantee 18-year-old me would have said the ‘crisping’ was not worth the physical and emotional scars I’m left with.
Thank you to Bask - Brittany and Mike and the team - for letting me tell my story. It’s been wonderful getting to know you, and I’m grateful to be a part of this special community that you’re building for survivors and their families.
Curren Bell Robbins is a skin cancer survivor, and host of the podcast Popular on DM. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now lives in New York City with her husband and two children.