My melanoma story began in January 2021; however, this spot has been with me ever since childhood. The fact it had always been there made me feel at ease and as a result I did not visit the dermatologist to have it monitored. I do not have a family history of skin cancer, I have only used the tanning bed a handful of times, and I wore sunscreen when I went to the pool or spent time on a beach. Although, I did have my fair share of sunburns growing up, I simply brushed off the warnings about UV rays and risk for skin cancer because when it came to skin cancer I thought I was invincible.
In 2013, I came to work at Christie Clinic Department of Dermatology. After working in the department and learning about the seriousness of skin cancers, I started seeing a dermatology provider for annual full body skin exams and I continued to self-monitor at home for changes.
Toward the end of 2020, I noticed some changes in a mole. It was changing size, shape, and color. When I had the mole examined more closely, it was recommended that the mole be biopsied. Less than a week later, the results were in and I was informed the spot came back showing to be melanoma in situ, which is a very early melanoma skin cancer.
I was completely surprised. With my time in the department, I knew that melanoma was the most dangerous type of skin cancer. I was assured that we caught the skin cancer very early and that we would treat it with surgery. A few weeks after the biopsy, I had the mole and surrounding area removed. When the pathology results were back, I got great news! The margins were clear, and I was melanoma free!
I have completed my first year of three-month skin exams and now have skin checks every six months for two additional years. If my moles continue to look normal and nothing worrisome is found, I will graduate to yearly skin checks. I cannot stress enough how important it is to see a dermatologist for these regular exams, it’s never too early to start! The biggest lesson I’ve learned is just how important it is to protect your skin from dangerous UV rays.
- Wear sunscreen every
- Stay out of the tanning beds.
- Know your skin!
If something looks off, different, dark, or weird … see a dermatologist! It could save your life!
By: Jenny Meyer-Smith