Today, we’re getting away from the books, and discussing something we all need to be aware of.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and who better to learn from than a Certified Melanoma Educator. Please help me welcome Susan Hughes as my guest today…
I’m delighted that Marlena has given me the opportunity to hijack her blog in order to spread the word about a topic that weighs heavy on my heart—melanoma. May is officially designated as Melanoma Awareness Month, so the timing couldn’t be better. Plus, it’s springtime, with summer just around the corner. It’s also prom and graduation time, which often bring out the desire to get a base tan via a tanning salon.
My response to that? Just don’t do it.
My father died of melanoma at age 47, back in the seventies when the disease was not well-known. I survived my first melanoma, a Stage 1 growth that required a wide excision removal but no further treatment. I have since had numerous dysplastic nevi (abnormal moles) removed, with one being a melanoma insitu (early stage, incapsulated).
I have never been in a tanning bed, but I spent years in the sun and suffered many peeling sunburns. I knew nothing about sunscreen and chose to coat my body with a dreadful mixture of baby oil and iodine before floating around in our pool . . . day after day, summer after summer. I loved it. I still love the feel of the sun on my face, but now I know better.
Melanoma is a misunderstood disease. Most people think of it as “just skin cancer,” something you can get cut off and be done with. Sadly, that’s far from the truth. Melanoma is deadly once it spreads. And it can hide in your body for years and years before reoccurring. My dermatological oncologist has seen it recur more than twenty-five years after the original diagnosis. And don’t be fooled into thinking that melanoma only starts from a little brown pigmented spot. Some melanomas are pink, red, blue, white, purple, or skin-colored. Some look more like a wart or an insect bite than a mole. The important thing is to keep a close eye on your skin.
If you’re a parent, check your child’s skin regularly too. Pediatric melanoma rates are on the rise! You’ll find a link regarding that topic below:
The good news is, it’s treatable if you catch it early, and that requires keeping a careful eye on your skin. You know your body better than anyone else.
A great resource for more information is the Melanoma Research Foundation. I’ve posted a link to their website at the end of this article. I became a Certified Melanoma Educator through their program. Here are some basic facts you might not be aware of:
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US.
- One American dies every hour from melanoma.
- 160,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017.
- Melanoma can develop anywhere in the body: eyes, nails, scalp, mouth, sinuses, anus, etc.
- Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race, or gender.
- Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 25-30 and the second leading cause in women ages 30-35.
- Approximately 500 American children are diagnosed with melanoma each year.
- Ocular melanoma (melanoma of the eye) is the most common primary eye tumor in adults.
- It takes only ONE blistering sunburn, especially during childhood, to double your chances of getting melanoma later in life. 5 or more such sunburns increase your risk 80%.
- Exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases your risk of melanoma by 75%.
Scared yet? That’s not my intention, but it’s definitely a scary subject, especially if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Fair skin, light hair color, light eye color
- Tanning bed use
- Exposure to UV radiation
- Family history of melanoma
- Sunburns at a young age
- High number of moles
- Previous melanoma diagnosis
- Weakened immune system
- Previous non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosis
If you meet any of these criteria, it is highly recommended that you see a dermatologist for a full-body skin check. Sadly, I meet 6 of them; thus, I see my dermatological oncologist every 3-4 months. And that’s 30+ years after my Stage 1 melanoma diagnosis!
Also, it’s vitally important to wear sunscreen every day. Make it a part of your morning routine, just like brushing your teeth.
With the focus on melanoma in May, many cities are hosting free skin cancer screenings. Check out the American Academy of Dermatology website to find a location near you: https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer.
Melanoma Research Foundation: https://www.melanoma.org
Aim at Melanoma Foundation: https://www.aimatmelanoma.org
Skin Cancer Foundation: http://www.skincancer.org
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Susan is a freelance editor and copy editor for Addison: The Magazine of the North Dallas Corridor. She is the published author of Post, Share, and Tweet Your Way to the Top: A Freelancer’s Guide to Social Media Marketing, available through the Editorial Freelancers Association and Lulu Press.
Connect with Susan:
Thank you for stopping by today. I invite you to share your thoughts below. Please also share this need-to-know post across social media. Let’s make a difference together!
Until next time……………………Love & Blessings!!