Blogger Steve Rubel Has Skin Cancer

    November 1, 2005

This morning, just hours before boarding a plane for Texas, I learned that I have been diagnosed with skin cancer. I am fortunate.

I have basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common and most treatable form of skin cancer. And I caught it early. After a brief procedure, my doctor expects me to make a full recovery with little change in lifestyle.

The thought that I have cancer – albeit a highly treatable one – is still settling in as I write this post at 30,000 feet. There’s something about the open skies that makes it easy for me to think clearly. Naturally, I feel fear and regret (more to come on that last part). Yet I also feel a sense of overwhelming optimism that I am going to be ok. Perhaps it’s because I am battle tested. Nearly 25 years ago I beat a benign childhood brain tumor and recovered fully after coming darn close to losing it all.

Each year some 800,000 Americans are diagnosed with this kind of skin cancer. Much of it is preventable if you take care to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Like many, I pooh-poohed the warnings. These included both regular words of caution from the media and those close to me. One of my favorite pastimes was sitting in front of a Starbucks, reading books or listening to podcasts and soaking up the sun. I neglected to wear sunscreen or a hat, even though I am follicly challenged. Now I am paying the price.

It’s clear from the statistics that many people still don’t take the risk of skin cancer seriously enough. Perhaps they need to hear more about it in a human voice – a blog voice. I recognize that I can help here (or at least try to). I have a blog with 5,000+ daily readers as well as a significant media profile. I am in a position to help in ways others can’t. I can do greater good. If one person starts wearing sunscreen regularly because of what they read here then I have done my job.

Later this week – once the domain propagates – I will launch a new blog called The Skin Cancer Blog ( Here I plan to not only track my progress (which hopefully will go quickly), but more importantly provide links to helpful information and stories from others. I am sure once the site is up we will hear from many others who have experienced the same or worse. Once it’s live, I will blog it here and I would appreciate any link love that bloggers are willing to provide it. Please link on the words skin cancer so that it begins to get some Google Juice and ranks highly on the right searches. Beyond the occasional post, this blog will not deviate from its regularly scheduled programming and I plan to continue the same pace.

Thank you for listening and for your support. – Steve

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Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.