Happy Monday! And guess what? It’s MELANOMA MONDAY! Woot!
Okay. I know this is not a fun way to start your Monday. (Where’s my coffee? I need coffee.) But it’s important. Melanoma awareness is important. Skin cancer awareness is important. I feel this way because..
I HAD MELANOMA.
That’s right. So this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. It’s something that has changed the way I take care of my skin and my husband’s skin and my children’s skin. I am THAT MOM. The mom who runs around and tackles my kids so I can apply sunscreen to every single inch of their body. I’m the mom yelling “Don’t forget your hat!!” as they head off to swim or play golf or walk to get the mail. I’m the mom who winces when I see another kid in the hot sun without a hat or sunscreen. I’m the mom who’s already taken both my kids to the dermatologist for a mole check.
My melanoma was from an irregularly shaped mole. I had the mole my entire life but it was on my back and I never paid that much attention to it. When I was 25 I developed a weird skin rash and went to a dermatologist for the very first time. My doctor decided to do a full body skin check since I’m very fair skinned and had never been to a dermatologist. She saw the mole on my back and immediately removed it. That didn’t phase me. I was glad to see it go. But then I got a call later that afternoon. You need to come back in. You have skin cancer.
I was floored. I had never heard of melanoma before. It is the deadliest form of skin cancer. But it’s also highly treatable if caught in time. I had to have surgery the next week. They were going to cut a tennis ball size circle around the mole to make sure any possible cancer cells would be removed. They had to clear the margins. They would take a thin layer of skin from my left thigh to cover the giant scar. So I’d have two large scars.
After the surgery they told me I was clear. Thank goodness. I could breathe again. I didn’t care about my scars. I didn’t want to have skin cancer anymore. I now have to get my eyes checked regularly. I had to get a lung scan (because melanoma can spread to the lungs or the eyes) and of course I get annual body scans. I’ve had every mole removed from my back and pretty much everywhere else on my body. I still get nervous every time I go to the dermatologist even thought it’s been 20 years since I had the melanoma. They tell me I can’t go into the sun without sunscreen.
So I’ll continue to be THAT MOM. I’ve been made fun of because my kids are wearing SPF-50 on a cloudy day. My kids have complained they are too greasy to play sports. A day at the beach does not happen without a tent or umbrella. I’ll constantly check my children’s moles and take them to the dermatologist once a year.
Please be aware of skin cancer. Go to the dermatologist and do a skin check. Have fun in the sun with your family, but just pile on that sunscreen! (My favorites are THIS ONE and THIS ONE.) For more information on melanoma and how you can #spotskincancer, visit HERE.