It’s never too early in the year to learn about skin cancer
It may be cold and wintery outside, but any time is a good time to learn more about melanoma. Jeannette is a valued member of our SupportStore team who kindly shares her brave story with us.
This past fall, Halloween arrived at my house a few weeks early. Why you may ask? Well, because I was showcasing two scars that even Frankenstein’s monster would be jealous of. But as horrible as my scars may be, I cannot help but be thankful for them every time I catch a glimpse of them in the mirror.
These scars aren’t just any scars. They mark my victory over skin cancer.
This past July, I noticed a new mole on my face. Though I hadn’t been to the dermatologist since my teenage years, I decided it was something I should get checked out. And thank goodness I did.
At my appointment, my doctor discovered a Melanoma lesion on my back in addition to what turned out to be a Basal Cell Carcinoma on my face.
Several trips to the Oncologist, four outpatient surgeries, and three awesome scars later, I am officially cancer-free. I feel blessed every day.
Now, I have always considered myself to be a well-informed person when it came to my health. But to be honest, I assumed that the recommended yearly mole checks were just a thing that “other” people deemed necessary. Turns out, I was wrong.
The key to successfully treating skin cancer is early detection. See your doctor or dermatologist yearly and do a self-skin check once a month, especially if you are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Also, familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
The ABCDE system can help you remember possible symptoms of melanoma:
- Asymmetry: One half of the abnormal area is different from the other half.
- Borders: The edges of the growth are irregular.
- Color: Color changes from one area to another, with shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes white, red, or blue. A mixture of colors may appear within one sore.
- Diameter: The spot is usually (but not always) larger than 6 mm in diameter — about the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolution: The mole keeps changing appearance.
Now that I’m armed with this info, I can’t help but share it. Being proactive, informed and cautious can save your life—I know it saved mine.
All in all, my advice is simple: When in doubt, get it checked out.