May Is Melanoma Awareness Month

As a melanoma survivor,  I feel a strong responsibility to share this post every year.  It’s important information that can save your life.

If you’ve read this before, whoohoo!  If not, please take a few minutes, if for nothing else but to look through the infographic.  It could honestly save your life or the life or someone you know.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

It’s fitting that May is Melanoma Awareness Month because it’s the beginning of warmer summer temps and lighter clothing.  Summertime means taking precautions against sunburns and routinely wearing sunscreen (for those of you who don’t already).

I am a melanoma survivor. I’m fair-skinned, blonde, and blue-eyed: the perfect candidate.  Top that off, I live in a Southern state where the sun shines the majority of the year and I spent my youth happily and ignorantly getting sunburned. Little did I know that my carefree days in the sun, and my inability to tan, set me up for the perfect skin cancer storm.

Before I was diagnosed, I was already seeing a dermatologist yearly, as was my son and husband.  She was and still is a trusted doctor whom I credit with saving my life.

I had noticed a small mole that seemed like it had changed ever so slightly, but not enough for me to move up my yearly exam.  Boy was young and busy with summer camps and fun, so I just kept an eye on it until I saw my doc a few months later.

When I did see her, we discussed that I thought the mole had changed somewhat, but upon visual inspection it looked fine to both of us.  It didn’t fall in the regular category for irregularity or color markers that usually distinguish melanoma.  We weren’t worried.  Although, she advised that she wanted to biopsy it “just to be safe.”

I’m forever in her debt that she insisted on that biopsy, because when it came back, I tested positive for Stage 1 Melanoma.

She called me with the news while I was in the middle of cleaning a toilet and asked me to sit down.  I still had my yellow gloves on and the toilet brush in my hand; I’ll never forget that moment.  My life changed dramatically in those few minutes as she explained to me what I had and what was next.

Back in ’99, there were no drugs, or chemo, to treat melanoma, not in the traditional ways of thinking about chemo.  Your option was surgery, then wait it out.  I was furious when I learned that fact.  I’m a proactive kinda gal and I wanted to blast the cancer from my body.  Nope.  No chemo and no radiation.  Just wait and see.  It was torture, especially since I had Husband and Boy to think about.

Yet, I was one of the amazingly lucky ones: my cancer hadn’t spread.  The game plan was to cut that mofo out (and I wanted it out IMMEDIATELY) then monitor me for signs they had missed one stinkin’ cancer cell.  That was in 1999, 15 years ago in August, and I’ve been cancer-free ever since, thanks be to God.

Not all melanomas are caused by the sun, but a large majority are, and that includes tanning beds which mimic the sun’s rays.

You should do a self-check once a month. If I hadn’t been diligent in doing self-checks, I might have missed pointing out the mole to my doc.  If you see anything that has changed, even in the smallest way, get thee to a dermatologist.

Also, wear sunscreen.  Come on.  It’s the easiest thing you can do for prevention and many sunscreens can be light and undetectable. You have no excuse.  Do it.

 

Melanoma Skin Cancer

 

 

Please Share on Your Favorite Social Media! ~ OMT thanks you! ~
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Comments

  1. Lisa@ Cooking with Curls says:

    Wow…as a blonde haired, blue-eyed, beach loving Southern California girl I should probably head directly to my dermatologist’s office. I have had moles checked in the past, but it’s been a few years:( Thank you so much for the information!

  2. Kari @ The Micro Farm Project says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I have had several basal cell carcinomas removed, so I keep a close eye on my skin. I always wear a hat when I am outside, and recently bought UV protective sleeves to cover my hands and arms when I am outside working on my farm. Glad to hear that you have been 14 years cancer-free!

  3. Thank you for this very informative, well-done article. Makes me really wish instead of getting mad about only finding one thing about World Asthma DAY I printed that one thing out instead of just a link. This is attention grabbing (as intended I’m sure) and hopefully will get people to dermatologists……like me. I’ve not gone in a shameful number of years.
    Janet

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      I think awareness is everything. Don’t feel bad about not going in the past, but go now. Be safe!

  4. Thank you for writing about this subject. My mother had a melanoma on the bottom of her foot and was treated. Exactly, 40 years later she found a little pink spot near it and it was another one. They took a huge part of her instep out, (size of a golf ball) and said they were not related.
    So, if we can keep the young folks out of the tanning booths, and taking precautions, that will help.
    I guess when we are young, we think it only happens to others!!
    To end this, I found one on my upper arm and had it removed by a surgeon three months ago!
    Whoever reads this – a tiny spot can end your life. Please take precautions !

  5. THANKS! I learned quite a lot from your post. This information is so important, so thanks for sharing.

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      I *just* got back from my yearly and a small pre-cancer spot was found. Getting screened is sooo important.

  6. Being a girl w freckles from her head to her toes, this is something I need to start doing… I’m also that fair skinned girl so I try to watch out and wear sunblock… I always get after my daughter for the tanning beds but she does not listen..

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Oooo, keep after your lovely girl. Tanning beds are dangerous (as you already know). Spray that tan on!

  7. Great info here. My sister in law was just diagnosed with a melanoma…fortunately they caught it early. Her husband’s sister died from melanoma. I get checked once a year and have had several pre-cancerous moles removed but nothing serious so far.

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Melanoma is the bitch of all cancers in that there’s not much you can do. If it’s in an advanced stage, you don’t have much of a fighting chance.

  8. My parents were so diligent with my skin when I was a young girl–melanoma runs in our family! I need to find a good hat and be better about wearing it outside. Any tips?

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Sombrero! (ha!) My tips are just be smart. Wear sunscreen, avoid the sun during peak hours, and check you self!

  9. In 1996 two melanomas were found on my back. So thankful God has kept me well since! I do have regular check ups and just had another biopsy this week. I love Coolibar clothing! Thank you for the great post!

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      Makes me happy to read stories of survival. Glad to know you’re well. Check-ups are essential and those of us who have been diagnosed know how they can save your life. Thanks, Jayleen!

  10. Thank you for sharing your story and the information about this killer cancer. We have lost two family members, one being my brother, to this disease. In 1990, he had a questionable mole removed. No chemo then, as you know. In 1998, he went into the hospital with what they thought was a bacterial infection from possibly a fishing trip. Two weeks later, he died. It was late-stage melanoma, after the cancer cells had lost their markers. Doctors were chasing something bacterial when it was actually melanoma – too late for treatment. My brother had months of symptoms leading up to it, like headaches, back-aches (cancer cell damage to spine), etc. The cancer cells released before his mole was removed were silently covering his body. Here’s my advice: Go To The Doctor! If you have issues with pain of any kind, please see a doctor. I get a mole check yearly, more often when things are cropping up regularly, such as basal cell spots. You cannot be too careful with this disease. I’m so glad to read your story of early detection (rare, I think), and it’s refreshing you have a cautious doctor. It’s wonderful to have you in Blogland, Mrs. T! I hope your family treasures your presence, as well. 🙂

    • Mrs. Tucker says:

      This is the first thing I read this morning, and you brought me to tears. I’m so sorry you lost your brother. Melanoma is not to be trifled with…get checked…YES. I am truly one of the lucky ones. When I had my mole removed, I was told that all it would take to kill me was one left behind cell. I lost sleep thinking how the hell was I supposed to be able to fight, how my docs were supposed to fight, against something we couldn’t see. I was also told that once you have been diagnosed with melanoma that it’s common to have it again within the first year. You better believe I was hyper-aware in that following year.

      There still isn’t much one can do about advanced melanoma. There are drugs that may/may not prolong life expectancy, but they’re brutal. You basically get diagnosed, have a removal and hope like hell they got it all.

      Than you for sharing your story and thank you for your kind words. I greatly appreciate both.

Trackbacks

  1. […] cleaning the toilets.  She had to sit down and shake the disbelief from her head: C-A-N-C-E-R.  Melanoma to be […]

  2. […] those floaties on, get the noodles, slather on the sun screen, and have some swimmin’ […]

  3. […] While getting some sun is tremendously beneficial, you must be smart about your exposure.  As a melanoma survivor, I do get sun, even on unprotected skin, but those unprotected times are limited to early/late […]

  4. […] been reading any amount of time here, you know my weakness for all thangs cake.  I once thought my time might be near to exit this world, and my biggest regret was that I hadn’t eaten more […]

Speak Your Mind

*