Ok, so I was not sure about this post. I've gone back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to write this and put it out there but if this can make one person stop going to the tanning bed or apply a sunscreen before going outside then I will feel as if this was the right thing to do.
I guess I'll start from the beginning. I went to the dermatologist for the first time in my life in 2016 at the age of 31. I had a full-body scan and everything came back normal. I have A LOT of freckles and moles and so I was really glad that everything was seemingly okay. I had one small spot on my left thigh that she said we would keep an eye on but that it looked fine.
Fast forward to two years later and I'm now living in Michigan and my husband was on me to revisit the dermatologist because I have a sun addiction. Yes, a sun addiction. When I was younger I grew up with a pool so I was always outside and I would lay out with Crisco, baby oil, or even just straight-up butter, yep, butter, as my tanning oil. I would literally FRY my skin from a young age and my skin shows it, hence all the freckles. Anywho:, so he was on my case to get checked out. I made the appointment and while there I pointed out the spot on my left thigh to the doctor and said: "Hey, this has gotten bigger and has changed since two years ago." I was told by the doctor that it looked fine and that she could take it off but it would leave a scar. Would I want a scar?
Now, my oldest sister was diagnosed with a Melanoma (Skin Cancer) a few years ago and has had four spots removed that have been cancerous. She thankfully just hit her five-year mark of having no cancerous spots!! But since the beginning of her journey with skin cancer, as a sign of solidarity and being just kindof scared myself, I have been more cautious with my skin and the sun. Now, I would still layout, and if I was working in the garden or anything I wouldn't reapply sunscreen (or even apply it in the first place). So I basically stopped going to the tanning bed but wasn't as vigilant as I could've been in the real sun. So I told the doctor that I didn't mind a scar. Take anything off that looks like it should be removed, off it came.
About a week later I got a call from the doctor and was expecting to just hear "Everything looked fine but make sure you make a follow-up appointment for a year!" Nope, not what I heard. Instead, the Doctor said "Well, it's a good thing that you pointed that spot out and wanted to take it off because it is cancer. Since you had another spot on your hip that looked questionable let's go ahead and make an appointment for three months out and remove that one." Jaw dropped. I was headed to get to my daughter from school and all of a sudden my head was in a tailspin. I called my sister later that night since she has experience with this and her words were more or less "Don't you dare wait three months. You call them back and have them remove it now." I made an appointment for the next day and my hip spot was removed. This came back clean thankfully.
About a month later I had an appointment at a Plastic Surgeon to have a larger margin removed to make sure that all of the cancer was out. It was about an hour-long procedure and I went in thinking this will be super easy, no recovery, I'll go to work after this. Thankfully for my boss who told me to go home and rest! It definitely hurt more than I was expecting once all the numbing medicine wore off. It was not a super long recovery, it was painful for about a week but then I would get pains if I stretched my leg the wrong way or if my kid jumped on me.
I now have to go to the dermatologist every six months for the next four years. If I don't have any more melanoma spots then I can then go every year. If I do have a melanoma removed then the timeline starts over.
Every day now is covered in sunscreen if I'm outside. Some days I get very annoyed and I don't want to apply it. I ALWAYS apply it to my kids and I re-apply like crazy but I tend to neglect myself. Life of a mom right?
I'm hopeful that I don't get any more spots but it's a reality that I probably will and because this has happened I have to be more careful with my children because they have a higher chance of having melanoma at some point. This is a VERY curable cancer and I am thankful for that but it's still cancer and should be treated with caution and taken seriously, not neglected because of that fact that is highly curable.
If you want to read about Skin Cancer here is a very informative article that I have found helpful: Mayo Clinic