Here’s another good reason not to skimp on the SPF.
A Canadian mother looked like an ‘acid attack victim’ after taking chemotherapy cream for her skin cancer – which she developed after neglecting to use sunscreen for years.
“It looks like I had an acid attack,” Honore Stark told SWNS of the topical treatment, which she is forced to wear for six hours a day. The 53-year-old Toronto resident added: “[Using chemotherapy cream] it’s like pouring acid on your skin and making your skin bubble. That’s exactly what it does and that’s exactly what it looks like.
Stark uses the cream to treat his basal cell carcinoma, one of the most common forms of skin cancer with 3.6 million people diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Although usually not fatal, the disease often recurs even after successful treatment and can increase the risk of developing other types of skin cancer.
The mother-of-four’s skin ordeal began in 2008, when she noticed a colorless “penny-sized indentation” with a scaly texture on her forehead.
Stark initially dismissed the spot as eczema because she was prone to the condition and “had very dry skin,” SWNS reported.
However, the woman reportedly began to worry after her “forehead was scarred with this lesion” several months later. So she decided to call in an expert.
“It was eating my skin and tissue and getting extremely close to my forehead bone and it scared me to see my doctor,” Stark recalled.
It was then that she received the devastating diagnosis.
The patient said: “I went into her office, I was quite nervous and didn’t know anything about skin cancer, and when she immediately looked at my forehead and said, ‘You have cancer. We need to set a date for surgery to remove this. “
“It was very scary because I didn’t know what type of cancer I had,” exclaimed Stark, adding that she was so upset by the doctor’s “lack of empathy” that she “went is made to cry”.
Hoping to find someone with more insight — and perhaps a better bedside manner — Stark changed doctors in 2009. The following year, she underwent surgery to have the lesion removed.
Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem: the cancer has since metastasized all over Stark’s body, including his neck, arm, and chest.
“I’ve had many, many lesions over the years, I couldn’t count the number,” she said. “I have the skin of a 70 or 80 year old woman.”
Since 2010, Stark has undergone a staggering 30 skin surgeries – like a game of whack-a-mole.
The unfortunate girl attributes her fate to the fact that “I never protected my skin”.
“I put sunscreen on my kids, but I didn’t put any on at all,” she explained. “I had sunscreen at home, but it wasn’t something I thought about every morning before going out.”
Stark added, “I didn’t wear a hat or stand under an umbrella, and that’s exactly why I have so much cancer.”
In order to preserve her sensitive skin, the mother must now wear sunscreen whatever the weather and can never expose herself directly to the sun again.
Stark was also prescribed the aforementioned chemotherapy cream in 2012, which she likened to “poison to cancer cells.”
“You apply it and it only picks up cancerous or pre-cancerous cells and there will be red, ugly crusted skin,” she explained.
Unfortunately, one of the side effects was that it made her “skin very hot and incredibly itchy” like there were “red, burning ants running all over your skin,” she said.
And the pain wasn’t just physical: “It makes my skin feel like I had a really bad accident,” Stark explained. “I saw people walk away from me. It hurt me and I felt rejected.
She added: “People were pointing at me and just didn’t understand if I had a contagious disease, or if someone had hurt me badly or if I had been in a car accident.”
Stark now hopes to use his ordeal as a cautionary tale highlighting the dangers of avoiding sunscreen.
“I want people to understand that small behaviors that they can incorporate into their routine can prevent this from happening,” said Stark, who frequently posts sunscreen PSAs on TikTok. “So you’re wearing a hat. I see babies outside in the sun with no hats on and I’m like “that scares me” because of what their future might look like.
She added: “I really like to raise awareness because this type of cancer allows you to protect yourself and your children at any time and at any age.”