Tell us who you are, what you do, and where you’re from.
Mariena Browning, I am from Pocatello, Idaho and I own a bakery specializing in gourmet cupcakes!
What kind of skin cancer were you diagnosed with?
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma with no primary source (meaning it didn’t start in a mole or from the sun).
What was your attitude to sun protection before you were diagnosed?
Before being diagnosed I was just okay about sun protection, I would wear sunscreen if I was outside for a long period of time but wasn’t the best at reapplying.
How did you discover your skin cancer and how long ago?
I discovered my skin cancer in the summer of 2018 through a swollen lymph node in my groin.
What were your treatment options? What did you decide on and why?
I didn’t have many different options to choose from but I had surgery to remove all the lymph nodes in my left groin and started targeted therapy (oral chemo) a couple weeks after surgery. After about 7 months of targeted therapy, the side effects were too severe for me to continue that treatment, so I switched to immunotherapy. Around the same time of switching treatments we found 2 brain tumors and did radiation to kill those. After a few more severe side effects we have found a treatment plan that seems to be working.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
Even though my cancer didn’t originate from the sun I am still very cautious in the sun now, sun protection is something I am very passionate about.
What are your best sun protection tips?
I always wear at least SPF 30. If I am outside I make sure to reapply every 80 minutes. I make sure my sunscreen isn’t expired, I try to stay out of direct sunlight and wear clothing that will protect me from the sun.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about taking care of your skin and sun protection?
I would tell my 16-year-old-self that getting a tan from the sun is so not worth it. A spray tan or self tanner is a way better option that burning your skin and the risk of getting skin cancer.