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.
Sun urticaria, more commonly known as an allergy to the sun, has its fair share of difficulties. And yet, the season most often associated with sun burns is not, according to this Solbari customer, the most precarious when it comes to his sun allergy.