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One of my mom’s friends, who has become a friend of my own, has a message she would like to share with everyone. Well actually she shared the message with me and I asked her if I could share it with everyone else on my blog.
Here is her message:
Every year, I try to warn and inform people about the dangers of melanoma. Please feel free to share with your friends.
Melanoma is the most severe skin cancer and the most deadly. It is becoming more prevalent. At one office in Charlotte, they were seeing 1 case per week, this past June they were averaging 3 cases per week (some caught early, sadly some were advanced). In New Zealand (land of fun and sun), 2 out of 3 people have skin cancer.
In 2003, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 melanoma. I had a wide-excision done (about the size of a baseball). After this health scare I got informed. Melanoma can kill you in months if not treated in a timely manner. If you have a darker skin tone, don’t be fooled, you are still able to develop melanoma and because you may think you are ‘safe’ you might not get it checked out as early as you should.
One time at the dermatologist’s office, I was told a teenage girl in another room was being told they had melanoma between their toes. Wear sunscreen on your feet if you wear sandals or flip-flops.
Another time at the Blumenthal Cancer center, I saw a teenage boy with his parents in the waiting room, waiting to see my doctor. He looked scared to death, so I knew he was the one having the appointment, I wanted to let him know he was being seen by the best, but I didn’t. However an hour later across town we happened to be at the same restaurant for lunch so I did not let my apprehension stop me from approaching them. After I introduced myself, I told him my experience and let him know it was going to be OK and we talked for a little while. He was so relieved and thankful that I talked to him. If you have teenage boys, be sure if they play sports and are “skins” that they wear sunscreen. They are shirtless a good portion of their Summer… be safe.
A friend of mine’s husband was diagnosed in April with Melanoma. It had spread. He passed away that Thanksgiving. He didn’t live to see his daughter turn 1. The only exposure he had to the sun was as a teenager. Coincidentally, while he was in treatment, his wife had a suspicious place checked out on her arm – – it too was melanoma, but it was caught early and their daughter still has 1 parent.
A friend of mine’s Mom died from occular melanoma. Wear sunglasses that have UV protection.
Another friend of mine’s Mother died from melanoma and she never saw her grandchildren.
Dermatologists often refer to tanning beds as “Melanoma in a can”. Think about it the next time you lay in a tanning bed. There’s not much difference between a tanning bed and a coffin.
These pictures are then evaluated by a doctor and any suspicious places are recommended for removal. Thanks to this procedure, the next melanoma I had was Stage 0, and only a quarter diameter place needed to be removed (much better than a baseball). If you know someone who has a lot of moles or freckles or suspicious spots this is for them. The pictures are kept and compared year to year for changes as well.
Be vigilant about any places on your bodies that change (darker, larger, looks odd, etc.). Follow up on it!! If you have never had a full-body check by a dermatologist, you should. I do stress a dermatologist over a primary care physician only because they do see more cases of melanoma than the average general practitioner.
Have fun in the sun, but please be safe. Your life and possibly your children’s depends on it.
P.S. I received an email after posting this blog entry from someone wanting to share a link to a website featruing the latest melonoma updates if you are interested in learning more! http://www.melanomaupdates.com/