It’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month and I thought it would be the perfect time to share my story.
When I was 21, my mother found a mole on my back that didn’t look quite right.
Of course, I dismissed her!
But she quickly made an appointment with a dermatologist to have it checked out. The dermatologist removed the mole and I had to wait 2 weeks to get the results.
Not thinking much about it, I gladly went back to college to go about my life.
A few weeks later my mother called to tell me I had Malignant Melanoma.
What in the world was Melanoma?
I flew home as soon as I could. I met with the dermatologist again and learned that Malignant Melanoma was the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The Melanoma had metastasized (spread) across and into the left side of my back. The dermatologist recommended more biopsies which would include removing layers and layers of skin out of my back and testing until there were no more cancer cells.
This was a life-changing experience because at the time young people were not getting skin cancer. I’ll be honest I have a nice size scar on my back, but he did remove all of the cancer cells. I used to fly up to Philadelphia and visit the Pigmented Lesion Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital for Melanoma patients. I was getting x-rays every 6 months. There was a chance of having to remove my lymph nodes in fear that it could have spread.
This was a lot for me and my family to handle. The GOOD NEWS was….. I was lucky. I caught it (my mom) in time.
How common is melanoma?
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2021 are:
- About 106,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 62,260 in men and 43,850 in women).
- About 7,180 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 4,600 men and 2,580 women).
The rates of melanoma have been rising rapidly over the past few decades, but this has varied by age.
Risk of getting melanoma
Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.6% (1 in 38) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for Blacks, and 0.6% (1 in 167) for Hispanics. The risk for each person can be affected by a number of different factors, which are described in Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer.
Melanoma is more common in men overall, but before age 50 the rates are higher in women than in men.
The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age of people when it is diagnosed is 65. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women).
Melanoma Risk Factors:
People with the following traits are at higher risk for developing melanoma and other skin cancers:
- Fair skin
- Red or blonde hair
- Light eyes
- More than 50 moles
- History of sunburn or UV exposure
- Family history of skin cancer
- Personal history of skin cancer
I’m a perfect candidate and so are my kids!
Living in South Florida or anywhere, you have to protect your skin and your children’s skin. I wear sunscreen under my makeup. My kids wear sunscreen to school. We always wear hats to Disney World, local parks, and green markets.
I get checked every 6 months.
It’s been a journey I’ll tell you. I’ve been made fun of because I was too white. I used to be afraid to wear a bathing suit because it would show my scar. But when I tell my story to someone who has been questioning getting that mole checked, they have usually gone to get checked out. I think I may have saved a few friends or strangers as well.
Now that you know my story, I thought I would share some lifestyle changes that I’ve made throughout my life and now with my kids.
Here are 5 WAYS YOU CAN PREVENT SKIN CANCER
See A Dermatologist
Wear Sunscreen Under Your Makeup
Keep A Sunscreen Stick By The Front Door For Kids or In Your Purse
Wear A Rash Guard
Use a self-tanner or get a spray tan
Local Mom Scoop is not a doctor, so if you have a mole or freckle you are questioning then see a doctor asap. I can also recommend a local dermatologist. Email me at email@example.com