Stories of Skin Cancer Survival
I'm a 25 year old female with nearly white hair and super fair skin. My dad, also blonde and pale, had a black mole on his scalp for a couple of years. He was diagnosed with stage III melanoma and underwent an extensive surgery on his head. He's alive and well, but this urged me to get my skin checked as I have many moles, some which were strange looking. I was 22 and pregnant when I had my first skin check. I had 2 biopsies on the strange looking moles on my chest. Both came back as malignant melanoma. I had surgery at 35 weeks pregnant to remove them. Then just 2 months later, I had another biopsy on my thigh for a mole. It too, was malignant. People do not take skin cancer seriously until it happens to them. Its unfortunate that people turn a blind eye to it and pretend it doesn't exist or won't happen to them.
November 2, 2012
I spent my adolescent years on the ocean in Rhode Island and then 24 years in Hawaii, basking in the sun, playing tennis, and trying to achieve just the right shade of tan. I moved to Arizona five years ago and met someone who told me I should have a dermatologist take a look at a small area on my shoulder. I knew that there was something there, but just kept overlooking the obvious. I didn't want to hear the words "skin cancer" uttered to me. Well, I relented, and had the spot examined. It was basal cell cancer. Over the past two years I have been vigilant, having had five MOHS procedures, but out of the blue, I noticed a small spot on my upper arm, dark brown in color, no bigger than the point of a pencil. It had appeared over a two-week period. I went to my dermatologist, had a biopsy, and within three days had a call from his office informing me that I had a malignant melanoma. My knees buckled at hearing this news. How could this be happening to ME? It looked so innocuous! The following week I underwent a wide excision of the melanoma with the removal of a lymph node. Fortunately, there had not been a spread of the cancer. You can rest assured that now I am a believer in regular screening and take extra time routinely doing a self scan of my body. No more "head in the sand" behavior for me.
I am now telling my friends and family to get in to see a dermatologist and get a full body check and to report anything that looks like it is something new. Being proactive can be a life saver. If my friend hadn't hounded me to get to the doctor, I can't imagine where I would be now!
November 25, 2012
I have had a troubling scalp problem for a couple of years. My hairdresser has encouraged me over the past few months to see a dermatologist for the problem. It finally got to the point it was driving me crazy, so I made an appointment to see a doctor for the condition. I also asked to schedule a full skin check as I had never had a comprehensive exam.
Living in Arizona for over thirty years and being an avid walker, I know the dangers of skin cancer. I was, however, not very diligent about using sunblock. That has changed.
My doctor found a small spot on the back of my right arm that looked suspicious. She did a biopsy and I got a call a day later to inform me the spot was melanoma in situ. I was told this meant the cancer was in the first layer of skin and there was no reason to think it had spread. I had surgery a few days later and after the test results came back, I was told they had gotten all the cancer.
I am eternally grateful to so many people: my hairdresser for urging me to make an appointment and to the doctors and staff of the dermatologist office who were so kind and helpful in alleviating my concerns and fears. One of the wonderful staff is my own daughter. This was a trying and fearful time for her also as she sees the results of skin cancer on a daily basis. It made all of our family aware of the importance of getting an annual skin exam and diligently using sunblock.