It was 1986, I was a senior in college, when a news story caught my attention. The picture that was displaying on the TV was something I could identify with, but what was it? As my full attention turned to what the reporter was saying, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…Skin Cancer. That was the beginning of my 27 years of skin cancer and counting. I have had two out of the three different types of skin cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma as well as Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Both are successfully treatable with early detection. If left undetected it can cause permanent disfiguring. I have undergone approximately 25 Mole surgeries to remove these cancers, and have had numerous Actinic keratosis (precancerous) spots treated. From the time I received my first confirmed diagnosis I was adamant about wearing sunscreen and limiting myself to sun exposure. I was never one who used a tanning bed or lived by the pool, but with a light complexion, anytime spent in the sun was allowing the time necessary for the sun damage to occur. I have been told it can take 10 years or more for the damage to develop into cancer, and even though I continue to use sunscreen daily, I will unfortunately be dealing with the results of my youthful years for the rest of my life. I do consider myself lucky and blessed. Lucky and happy that when it was brought to my attention, I chose to become aware and take the preventative steps needed to not allow my cancers to go undetected. I go to my dermatologist every three months for a head to toe screening. I encourage everyone to become familiar with your moles, freckles, and any spot on your body. Become knowledgeable of the signs and take notice of any changes…your life just may depend on it. Prevention and detection is key to a healthy skin.
As our loving Beca would say: Be aware, Take time to share, Show that you care.
I am not only a good and close friend to Aneta and her family, but a proud sponsor for Blackout Melanoma, and will do everything I can to spread the melanoma awareness.