PSA – Beware the Sun

I like most everyone LOVE the sun. Who doesn’t love the warmth on your skin and bright sunny days with the fresh air full of the aroma of sunscreen and tanning oils?

Exactly, the sun is awesome. Somehow we, or maybe just me, equate a tan to being healthy and an outdoorsy fun person. My years of that philosophy are over and I mean instantly. My mother has lymphoma and there is no family history of any skin cancers so of course I felt invincible my whole life even though I have very fair skin. When we were kids we were burnt to a crisp at the beginning of summer and by the end we looked like we just moved here from Mexico. If your nose wasn’t peeling at the end of the summer, you must not have had any fun.

Well, I am living proof and will continue living thank goodness. The first atypical mole was found by nothing short of a miracle by my family doctor. I went in at 40 years old for a routine physical, preventive medicine is a good thing. He could tell from my darkened skin at the end of another summer spent in swimming pools and at the lake that I was at risk. He said “you probably never check your back, so let me take a look”. His next words were “oh, that has to come off immediately”. So I let him cut the mole off without a second thought and honestly wasn’t very worried and it did come back as pre-cancerous atypical but again, I didn’t take it seriously. It’s not cancer so no worries. Off I went on my merry way. I did stop tanning in tanning beds in the winter, which I never excessively tanned anyway. I usually went for 10 min just to boost my spirits in the gloomy winter and keep a light tan. I did curb my sun exposure somewhat and the effects of that were I developed a vitamin D deficiency but that is a whole different story as this is about Melanoma.

Two months ago, I noticed a black dot on the inside of my forearm. Strange place for a mole when that never sees the sun but that’s where the cancer decided to try and start. The black dot did not meet the criteria they preach about the ABDCE’s of melanoma, but that didn’t stop me from worrying. After all, I did have an atypical mole already and this dot showed up out of nowhere in the matter of a few months. I stared at it daily and finally after two months made the appointment(fear of medical bills as I don’t currently have health insurance). It was small too, only about 2 mm but black. Results came back today that it was moderately atypical. The next stage is severely atypical and then it is melanoma.

So my point is, I dodged the Melanoma bullet twice now and now I won’t be caught in the sun without sunscreen. So please if you read this – WEAR SUNSCREEN and take a vitamin D supplement. Watch your skin closely for moles that appear out of nowhere after the age of 20. It might save your life. It has mine.

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