NEW YORK - A 24-year-old woman living in New York City is recovering from skin cancer on her face after she initially thought it was a pimple.
Gibson Miller said she noticed the spot directly under her left eye hadn’t gone away for about a year, which was when she decided to see a doctor.
“One of my friends in college had something on her face, something similar, that she had checked out which ended up being fine. So, I had that in the back of my mind,” she said. “Once I graduated college, I noticed what I thought was a pimple on my face and it didn’t go away for a year. Once I realized it wasn’t going away, I remembered my friend and I decided to go get it checked out.”
“I kinda had an inkling about it, specifically that spot,” she said.
Miller, who is originally for Ohio, said she was “ really lost because I didn’t know anything about this, I didn’t know anyone who had this.”
A biopsy for the spot on her face revealed that she had stage 1 basal cell carcinoma. She had to be extra careful since the skin cancer was so close to her eye. She underwent Mohs surgery to remove the cancer. Then, a specialized oculoplastic surgeon closed and stitched up her skin after the cancer removal procedure.
Dr. James Chelnis is the oculoplastic surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai who treated Miller.
“The eye is a really unique structure,” he told Today.com. “It’s difficult to appreciate that such a small part of your body can have such a large impact on health and overall functioning.”
Now, Miller said she is cancer-free. She wants to spread awareness about how and why people should take of care of their skin, saying that “knowledge is power.”
“My new tagline: sunscreen is sexy. Everyone needs to wear it no matter what you do in the sun,” she said.
She warned about the negative effects of “chemical sunscreen,” which is different than mineral ones with zinc oxide.
“Anything that starts with ‘oxy'-' is really bad. They're chemical sunscreens and they're terrible,” she warned.
“The whole reason why chemical sunscreen came to be is because people didn’t want to see sunscreen on their body. But that whole taboo about seeing sunscreen is not worth it and needs to end,” she said. “I used to think that ‘having some color is better than having no color,’ but it’s not worth it in any way whatsoever.”
Miller also emphasized the importance of getting a fully body skin cancer check.
“Since I am more at risk, I will get a full body skin cancer check twice a year. Everyone should get a full body skin test once a year,” she said. “You absolutely need to.”
Fox TV Stations’ Hyeji Suh contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.