Karen Abernathy shares her battle with skin cancer - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Karen Abernathy shares her battle with skin cancer

"Thirty years ago, not only was there very little public awareness and education about skin cancer, but getting a good tan in the summer months was a goal for many people. I was one of those people," explained veteran WLOX News Anchor Karen Abernathy. "Thirty years ago, not only was there very little public awareness and education about skin cancer, but getting a good tan in the summer months was a goal for many people. I was one of those people," explained veteran WLOX News Anchor Karen Abernathy.
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Over the next few weeks, you'll notice a member of the WLOX News Team missing from the anchor desk at 5pm. Karen Abernathy is healing from surgery to remove skin cancer. Before she left, she wanted to share her story with you with the hope you'll take sun exposure seriously, no matter what your age.

The following are Karen's own words about her history with skin cancer, and the battle ahead:

You hear it time and time again: Protect your skin. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing. But 50 years ago, even 25, 30 years ago, it was a different story. Not only was there very little public awareness and education about skin cancer, but getting a good tan in the summer months was a goal for many people.

I was one of those people. I had a tan almost every summer until I hit my late 20s, and started learning about the connection between sun damage and aging, and skin cancer. That's when I started wearing sunscreen.

So for the past 25 years or so, I've been pretty good about protecting my skin. Some people, including my two boys, even thought I was a little obsessed with protecting my skin, and their skin when they were children.

That's why I was somewhat surprised to learn I had melanoma on my calf a year and a half ago. It looked like a small, flat, black freckle. But a biopsy showed it was melanoma - The most dead and most rare form of skin cancer, only accounting for two percent of all skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.

Luckily, I caught it at an early stage. I still lost a good size chunk of my calf during surgery, but didn't require chemo or radiation. Knowing the statistics on melanoma, I felt very fortunate. But it was scary, and a wake-up call that I'd have to be even more diligent about protecting my skin.

But apparently my sun exposure over the years is catching up with me. Several months ago after a snorkeling trip, I noticed a very small bump on the tip of my nose that would come and go. I treated it as a pre-cancerous spot and took precautions. But then it came back and didn't go away. It bled one day and I knew I needed to get it checked out.

It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, one of the most common and least dangerous. Still, I would require surgery. And this time it was on my face. That's unsettling for anyone, but this could affect my job in front of the camera.

And that's where we are today. I'm recovering from that surgery right now as you're reading this. Before going in for surgery, I learned that I could have as many as 50 sutures, which my doctor told me would actually help minimize the scar in the long run. So for the next few weeks, I won't be in front of the camera. Hopefully my nose will heal well, and hopefully my absence will remind you to take sun exposure seriously, no matter what your age. Because there's a good chance it will catch up with you at some point.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly