Your Story Series: Meet Mariena

Your Story Series: Meet Mariena

Tell us who you are, what you do, and where you’re from. 

I'm Mariena Browning. I am from Pocatello, Idaho and I own a bakery specialising 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 tumours 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. 

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