No amount of money, level of fame and influence, nor ship-launching beauty can protect against skin cancer. Celebrities and public figures, like the rest of us ordinary citizens, must shield their skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Being diagnosed with the most common cancer in the United States can be an eye-opening and life-changing experience. Here’s an inside look at famous people’s personal experience with skin cancer.
Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley introduced reggae music to the whole world, earning him induction into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame years after losing his battle with melanoma in 1981.
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient’s cancer first appeared as a dark spot under his toenail in 1977. Although his doctors suggested amputating the toe, Marley refused surgery due to his Rastafarian faith, which considers removing any part of the body (temple) a sin. The disease eventually metastasized (spread) throughout his body.
The singer was only 36 years old during the time of his death. His tragic passing serves as a reminder that men and women of color are susceptible to skin cancer, despite the popular but completely false narrative claiming that African-Amricans and other races with darker skin tones are immune to skin cancer. Read What People of Color Need to Know About Skin Cancer for more information.
Even Wolverine’s cell-regenerating abilities are no match for skin cancer. In 2014, actor Hugh Jackman had a basal cell carcinoma (BCC) surgically removed days before attending the New York premiere of his movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Since then, he has received multiple BCC diagnoses and treatments.
Jackman’s latest diagnosis was in February 2017, when the actor shared his skin cancer scare with the world through an Instagram post. “Another basal cell carcinoma. Thanks to frequent body checks and amazing doctors, all is well,” the repeat survivor wrote, ending his caption with the hashtag “#wearsunscreen.”
In May 2014, singer-songwriter and country music legend Kenny Ray Rogers shared a picture of his bandaged face on Instagram with the caption, “but you should see the other guy!”
The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee and three-time Grammy winner announced that he had “a bit of skin cancer removed” and advised everyone to “go get checked.” The singer died of natural causes in March 2020. He was 81 years old.
Olympic champion Summer Sanders brought home four medals to the United States, including two gold, from the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, Spain. However, the former competitive swimmer admitted to never using sunscreen while training, according to ABC News Radio.
Years later, Sanders’ doctor diagnosed her with stage 1 melanoma. Following surgery in 2014, she received two more melanoma diagnoses. “I thought I was one of those people who would never get skin cancer. I was wrong,” she said regrettably.
Today, Sanders is an advocate for skin cancer prevention. Joking with her children, she said, “You’re so lucky that mom got melanoma because you’re never getting a sunburn in your life,” reported ABC Radio.
In 2017, Real Housewives of Orange County’s Tamra Judge showed her butt cheek on Instagram and enclosed an important message: “I’m showing you this picture because this is what melanoma looks like. I don’t want sympathy, I want you to save YOUR [censored word] and get your skin checked.”
In 2016, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians reality star talked about her skin cancer scare in posts on her app and website. “I have moles everywhere, and a couple years ago, I noticed one growing under my breast,” she said.
A biopsy later revealed that the mole was benign (noncancerous). In a subsequent skin check, however, doctors detected skin cancer in a suspicious mole on her back. “I had 8 inches of skin removed. It was definitely painful because it was a lot of skin, but most of the time, the removals haven’t been that bad,” Khloe Kardashian disclosed with her millions of followers.
Khloe is not the only member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan who experienced skin cancer. In a makeup-free photo of herself posted on Instagram, Caitlyn Jenner showed the red, raw tip of her nose. “I recently had to get some sun damage removed from my nose,” said the retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete. “PSA–always wear your sunblock,” she added.
Although Jenner captioned the post saying that she had only removed “some sun damage” from her nose, PEOPLE later verified that Jenner actually had basal cell carcinoma removed from the tip of her nose.
Even the Force was not strong enough to protect the great Obi-Wan Kenobi from a skin cancer scare. As a result of spending too much time in the sun during his younger years, the Scottish actor had multiple malignant moles removed in the early 2000s. Since then, he has dedicated himself to following skin cancer prevention tips. The Star Wars leading cast member also avoids two habits that increase the risk of other cancers: smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
Boasting an Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards (among many others), Diane Keaton is one of the most critically-acclaimed actresses in the world. The fair-skinned star, however, admitted that as a young actress, she was always tanning, which contributed to her squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) diagnosis at the age of 21. The Godfather star now uses a broad spectrum sunscreen everyday.
Best known for his roles in Vikings and Sons of Anarchy, actor Donal Logue had a skin cancer scare in 2013 when he noticed a bump on his scalp. A professional skin check revealed that the suspicious mass was a squamous cell carcinoma. Today, as a fair-skinned and red-haired individual, Logue is much more cautious about excessive and unprotected sun exposure.
As far as scientists and doctors know, no one in the world — regardless of your age, gender, or race — is immune to the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays. Therefore, ensure to check your skin and moles every three months. If you notice a new or unusual change in your skin, see a dermatologist right away.
Do You Have Skin Cancer?
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer and are seeking comprehensive treatment options, please contact New Hope Unlimited now to schedule a consultation. Our medical team includes specialists in advanced skin cancer treatments for patients with melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, BCC, SCC, and other rarer forms of skin malignancies.