I am an award winning professional wildlife and western artist and published children’s book author and illustrator. I am also a multiple cancer survivor at only 31 years old. I have had melanoma of the eye (treated with radiation) and 3 Mohs Surgeries on my face due to extreme sun exposure. As a wildlife and western artist I have to spend a great deal of my time traversing the outdoors as I focus on depicting Southern culture and the wildlife that inhabit its vast landscapes. It is with use of UV Skinz amazing brand of clothing that I find freedom to experience the wonders of the outdoors and then replicate that passion and inspiration through my artworks without the fear of extreme sun exposure. As a husband and a new father of a 12 month old, Lily Madison, I want to be alive, healthy and happy for a long time. I feel that your company’s products provide me with that opportunity.
I hope these words inspire others to live life to the fullest without being reckless with their skin.
This is Jared’s story.
What led to your battles with skin cancer?
I have always had extremely fair skin. When I was a child there was not a lot of information available on the effects of sun damage and very few products, if any, as incredible as UV Skinz to prevent skin exposure. When I was about two years old, my parents took my two sisters and me to Carswell Air Force Base to watch the Thunderbird’s fly. It was a cloudy Texas day, and like most, my parents were uninformed on the damage UV Rays can generate, regardless of sky conditions. It was a tragic mistake that left me with a severe sunburn to my face and arms that has since lead to ongoing skin complications, including several Moh’s surgeries to my face. My parents are great people and that severe sunburn doesn’t do justice to reflect the love, affection and care they have modeled over my 31 years.
What was the primary cancer treatment facility involved in your care and what was your experience there?
I have had a couple different cancer battles throughout my short life. While in college, I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in my left eye and was treated at First Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas by Dr. Snyder. The surgeon attached a gold plaque with radioactive iodine tablets to the backside of my eye and left it there for 5 days while I stayed in Intensive Care. Nine years later I was diagnosed with 3 spots on my forehead where cells were growing. The dermatologist informed me that they were due to severe sun damage. I had 3 Moh’s surgeries by a plastic surgeon in South Florida to remove the patches of skin that were determined malignant.
What would you say is the most impactful experience of your treatments?
Going through a battle with cancer is very humbling. Something as a small as a 2 mm tumor in my left eye and mutated cells on my forehead dramatically shook-up my life. In a way I am thankful for it because it was a reality check of my own mortality and offered a humbling “eye-opening” (no pun intended) experience that there is a lot more to value in life then just trying to succeed or satisfy your self wants. True living is found in loving others and that’s something I now experience daily.
What would you most like people to know about yourself?
I am not bitter towards the health issues I’ve battled. I’ve always maintained a positive outlook and made the most of whatever life throws my way. While I had little control in how cancer entered my life, I completely control how I let it effect my life. I want to live a good, honorable life. Then when death comes knocking I can think back and enjoy it a second time.
What is your greatest source of strength and/or inspiration?
I am fortunate to have a solid foundation for strength and inspiration. My faith has really seen me through the toughest of times and leaves me believing God will make good what the enemy intends to harm. My family has also offered unconditional love and support throughout my battles with cancer. My wife, Erin, and my 12-month daughter, Lily, make my second shot at life seem like a dream come true!
How did your diagnosis change your life?
I was only a college student when I dealt with my first cancer scare. I was told at the time of surgery that if the tumor had gone unnoticed, I would have been dead by 25 years old. I was also informed that I would likely lose much of my vision in my left eye. As a professional artist, I had taken for granted the gift of life and I no longer want to waist a moment of it. I now have an uncanny work ethic towards creating picture books and rendering my wildlife and western artworks. I contribute that internal drive to my brush with a life threatening cancer. Life is too short and I don’t want to miss a moment of it!
Is there an inspirational quote or song that keeps you moving forward and gives you strength in your life?
“I went sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin’.”
– Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
I created a western drawing inspired by my battle with cancer and these very lyrics from the Tim McGraw song. It was a very liberating accomplishment to put into art the emotions I have experienced. They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and after completing that drawing I would have to agree. I invite people to visit my website at: www.jaredpaulwilson.com and view that artwork, along with the rest of my portfolio.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who thinks that skin cancer can’t happen to them?
Don’t be reckless with your life. I had only one severe burn as a child and have now dealt with its damage ten fold. Take advantage of products like UV Skinz so that you not only experience today, but may also live for tomorrow.