Brooke Baldwin: Love the sun, hate the sun, but wear sunscreen!!
April 15th, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Brooke Baldwin: Love the sun, hate the sun, but wear sunscreen!!

I've always had a love hate relationship with the sun. Since I was a kid, growing up in Georgia, I've loved the outdoors. The pool during the summer. Playing sports outside. and of course getting a tan at the beach. Only, I wasn't like my other girlfriends who would sit by the water and turn a nice shade of bronze. Oh no. I, being the blue-eyed, brunette fair-skinned girl that I am, would burn. And I mean burn.

I can remember going to Hawaii as a kid with my family. Spring break. We'd head to the beach and then there was my mom (whom I love dearly, mind you, but after so many times of hearing this, I started to tune her out), "Brooke, put on your sunscreen!" Ugh. "What do mothers know?" I thought. (Ha! A lot, apparently. More on that later.)

In my teen years I cared more about beating my brother to the beach, rushing out into the water first. Sunscreen? No time. And reapplying? Forget it. I didn't want to deal. And so I remember I just about ruined our trip to Maui one year - I must've been in the fifth or sixth grade. One day in the scorching sun.Woke up the next morning and could not move. Scorching pain. I'll spare you the details. Needless to say, the sun held me hostage in my Hawaii hotel room for the next 24 to 48 hours. Snorkeling trip? Forget it. Horseback riding? Nope. (Sorry, family.) I, Brooke Baldwin, did not "do" sunscreen.

But then I got older and wiser (about time). In college and beyond, I would slap on the SPF. But by this point in time, I'm afraid serious sun damage had been done. Keep in mind, I never dared to hit a tanning bed or ever coat myself in coconut oil (How do girls do that? Can we say "burn!"?). Sunscreen was becoming part of my vernacular but it certainly wasn't a day-to-day thing.

Fast forward to summer 2010: I start to notice this tiny scratch on the bridge of my nose. Almost looked like a cat got me. In fact, I thought at first it was a scratch. And working on-air at CNN I go into makeup every day. So by the time I get home and vigorously wipe it all off, it would bleed. Barely bleed. But it was enough to cause me some pause. But did I go into the dermatologist then? Nah. Because in a matter of months, it went away. And I thought I was in the clear.

But I wasn't. Just two months ago this little obstinate scratch - poof - came back. And it was this time that I knew I needed to get into my dermatologist. ASAP. So I went. And it was one of those visits when the doc asks you a bunch of questions and you answer "yes" to every one of them. (Does it bleed? Yes. Have you had it more than a month? Yes. Have you had a few bad sunburns as a kid? Yes). So she said to me: "Brooke, we need to do a biopsy." OK, never had one of those before. So she took out the tiniest little scalpel (keep in mind, this thing is on my nose and I'm watching my dermatologist's every move as she narrows in on my nose with a sharp scary object). Oh and did I mention I work in TV... like ON TV. So all I could think was "Of all places I could have skin cancer it could be - bullseye - in the center of my face?" Great. She took a small scoop, popped a bandage on my face and sent the sample into the lab.

A few days later the biopsy came back: positive - basal cell skin cancer, the lowest form. The doc told me, "You'll be fine, but you have to go to this specialist and go get a Mohs (procedure)." So being a reporter, I go home, do my homework and start Googling everything I can about a "Mohs." You know the first picture that popped up - a woman with a dent in her nose from her cancer removed. A dent. Not kidding. (Great.)

So a month later, I take a few "vacation" days from work (Ha, vacation) and go to this specialist/plastic surgeon to have this Mohs procedure. Basically it was very similar to a biopsy but more invasive. They numbed my nose (oh yeah, a big, long needle headed straight into my face - and now I can say, THAT was the most painful part of the procedure.) He then took a small scalpel and in he went, cutting out the cancer. And then the wait. They take the skin, test the margins and figure out if they need to go back in and cut out some more. They did - but only one more time. All in all, fairly painless.

The following two days, I kept a large pressure bandage on my face and a steady rotation of frozen peas on my nose and eyes to keep the swelling down. The pain was minimal. It was the stares I got in the grocery store or out walking my dog that were the best part. It's that, "Oh my, did she get a nose job?" look. Finally, that bandage came off and on came a tiny BandAid. And as I sit here and type exactly a week later, I still have a small BandAid on my nose. I've worn it on air the last three days. Even my newsroom show team put bandages on their noses in solidarity. By now, the stitches have just about dissolved. And I think soon enough I'll be good as new.

I do have to admit: Still love the sun. You can't stop me from being the outdoorsy gal I am. But I now carry SPF everywhere. And I, at nearly 32 years of age, still have a mother who always finds a way to work in "wear sunscreen" into any conversation. And now, she has good reason. So learn from me (what I should have learned from my mother years ago): Wear sunscreen.

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Filed under: Skin Cancer

soundoff (870 Responses)
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    February 14, 2017 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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    I disagree Tamisha

    March 1, 2017 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ricky Huezo

    Hey, I’m feeling you on this one. Not sure what is a solution to it though. People just don’t think and I believe over the years their rudeness has gotten worse. You know you get sick and tired of hearing day in and day out from your district manager “it’s not about us, it’s about the customer”. Easy for him to say because his ass is not in the pharmacy day in and day out. Personally I’d like to take a couple of those cell phones and shove it up a couple of customers asses. A girl can dream, can’t she?


    April 8, 2017 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. linda.locke

    Why is brooke baldwin so ORANGE??? Looks terrible

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  5. linda.locke

    Why is Brooke Baldwin so ORANGE? She looks terrible

    January 14, 2019 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Alice Coble

    Brooke is in my opinion the best CNN Anchor/news person there is – female that is. I'll go for Chis Cuomo and Don Lemon as the best males. However, I degress. I'm much older than Brook and was watching CNN while reviewing suntan creams and lotions for fake suntans when I looked at her and her lovely tan and wondered if her tan was real. I figured it probably was. I found this article and am so very glad I DId! I wish it had a link to share it on FB but no worries, I'll copy and paste it. I know when I was a kid in the 50's and 60's I never heard about sunscreen. the Sunday School class teacher would take us all to "Lake Spivey" which was just a large swimming place with sand and one time I got fried – or so it felt like. I had tiny little water blisters all over me, especially my back, and I was wrapped up in salt water towels for several days (an idea mother got from my Uncle – he'd been badly burned and that's what the hospital did for him). It helped the burn but not the pain. Brooke's story a great one to share on the hazards of no sun screen. As an adult, I got sensible – no swimming hole (other than Stone Mountain's beach) in Decatur GA – so I'd sit in the sun and read for 15-20 minutes a day, and got a great tan in my 30's. No problems, no worries and no pain. All I had to do was to moisturize my skin daily. Thanks for this great story and I do hope it will be okay to share it on FB because it is a good lesson from a smart young woman!!!! Thank you, too, CNN, for being honest and reporting all the news well and honestly. I know ABC and CBS do the same, but wish other agencies like Fox would do the same! God bless you all!

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