Experts Say Skin Diaries

Ian Leonard – Let’s Get Gross

As someone in the public eye, I have never been one to shy away from the camera.  I feel very blessed to be doing work that I love. I feel obligated and truly rewarded when I know I can make a positive difference in our community. I am not being compensated for this but I know this is so vitally important. If we can empower one person and inspire one family to practice better sun safety then my cancer journey will have changed lives for the better. I hope my story, as gross as it may be, will encourage everyone to have their skin checked this year, practice a sun-safe lifestyle and share their own story so we may all unite to fight this ugly battle.

It started with a small pimple on my bottom lip. Almost imperceptible unless you are a manscaping Metro like me. A small pimple that caused inordinate amounts of pain when touched. The dermatologist knew right away. The biopsy confirmed it. Squamous cell skin cancer. Wait, what? It’s just a pimple. It was actually the tip of the tumor buried in my bottom lip. MOHS surgery came two weeks later. Seven MOHS procedures in 6 hours. Then home for the night. Home with a gaping wound where my bottom lip was supposed to be. That was Monday, Plastic surgery was Tuesday. Two days of surgery, 42 stitches and the loss of a third of my bottom lip.

For more on Ian’s skin cancer journey please check out his blog at:


This May, we are getting gross. The ugly truth is that skin cancer is not fun or glamorous. We want to share the not-so-wonderful side of what happens after a skin cancer diagnosis. Coolibar’s mission is to keep the world safe from sun damage and we thank each selfless warrior for boldly sharing their story. We hope you bear with us as we share stories to provide awareness, education and spur prevention. We’re among friends–now let’s get gross.

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  • Michele

    Ian, thank you for sharing your story. Every story helps!

  • Jessica

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Jane

    Thanks for your courage to share.

  • JoAnne Lusk

    Spent my life in the sun in SoCal, playing golf, going to the beach and being tan. At 70, countless basal and squamous incidence and 2 melanoma excisions later the sun isn’t our friend. Been covering up with UPF clothing for the last 20 years but the countless hours of sun took their toll. I cringe at women’s skimpy sun fashions and do my best to warn younger people there is no healthy tan.

  • Mohs Tek

    I read your story. It’s really inspiring. Thanks for sharing this.

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