Stuff Brittney Says: People always ask me, "What are you?" Spanish? Italian? Hawaiian? Persian? Armenian? Puerto Rican? Albino Jamaican? ... I'm human, does it matter?

I deserved the skin cancer scare I got. But you don’t! How to avoid it…and the insecurities that led me to it.


The first time I ever even acknowledged that I had an enlarged freckle on my cheekbone under my right eye was in my mid-twenties. I was sitting in a make-up chair having all my flaws covered up for my first TV job.
The makeup artist asked, “Do you want me to cover up your beauty mark?”
What beauty mark? I have a beauty mark!” I replied, kind of excited. She looked confused as she held up a mirror and pointed out the rather large brown spot on my face.
“Oh, that, I shall call her Cindy Crawford. I don’t care, your call.”
She covered it with foundation.

Nelly Cason

The next person to point out that spot on my face was seven years later when Dermatologist Dr. Joel Sugarman saw me for the first time (and the first time I’d ever seen a Dermatologist. I know, shame on me, but as a PSA for those in the same boat: Going to the Dermatologist does not make you a hypochondriac, it makes you smart).

“When did you notice that mark on your face,” he asked. And my sincere reply: “Well I didn’t start getting vain until my 20s, so I had to have had it my whole life, right?”

“Can you show me some pictures of yourself when you were younger?” he requested. So I pulled out my iPhone and scrolled to some black and white baby pics I had from #throwbackthursday. But no “beauty mark.”

He sent me home and had me go through all my old pictures, and as I rummaged through shoeboxes full of pictures made from old film rolls – the kind you had to wait and get developed to see what it looked like and just hoped the pictures turned out (I’m really aging myself here).
But a small freckle first made a cameo in the scrapbook of my life in my freshman homecoming picture. And I apparently didn’t wear makeup to my homecoming dance either because you could actually see it, about three times smaller than it is now.

I showed Dr. Sugarman the pictures, and next thing I knew I was getting my face numbed for a biopsy. And waiting for the results, as I was walking around looking like Nelly, I swallowed my pride and accepted that should the results come back as Melanoma, that I deserved it. It was my pride that put me in this predicament to begin with.

I could write you all kinds of advice on how to avoid skin cancer in terms of health precautions, but that’s obvious – keep your ass out of the tanning bed! But what women need to avoid in general, is the mentality that being pretty is so important that it’s worth risking your health over. So please be comfortable in your own skin, or you might end up with skin cancer.
So how is it that I could go through life not noticing a prominent marking on my face? … Because about the time the “beauty mark” made a change in size, is when I changed and started spending more time in the mirror.

Truth is, a couple more times sitting in a make-up chair I did notice that mark, and made an effort to cover it with make-up. And I also began to start noticing every single flaw I had – on my body that is, that excludes the flaws to my personality I developed as this silly tomboy transformed into a vain vixen.

Oh the irony – the very acts of vanity led me to the position where I was having a chunk of my face cut out to determine if my “beauty mark” was actually skin cancer.

They say everything happens for a reason; well sometimes that reason is you make stupid decisions. For me that would be caring more about being considered beautiful to others than being healthy. And look where caring about what other people thought got me…laying on a doctor’s table getting my face cut open. Because I use to seek confidence from without rather than within; I needed people to tell me I was pretty in order to believe I was. So I did things in order to get that kind of attention, such as becoming an NFL Cheerleader. And when I was a cheerleader we got free tanning, so I’d go three times a week and lay in a tanning bed for 20 minutes because I thought it made me look skinnier and helped clear up my skin.

Only by the grace of God did my test results come back benign. And feeling unworthy of such a blessing I feel it my responsibility to share my experience in hopes no other woman has to.

And side note, I also thought that since I inherited my grandmother’s Spanish skin and have never experienced a sunburn, that I was exempt from needing to wear sunscreen. PSA: Brown people need sunscreen too!