It is officially Spring and people are outside in the sun. We are a nation that LOVES the sun. We all want to go where the sun is shining. The bad thing is… we are also a nation that thinks “Tan” is beautiful. I believed that being tan was important when I was young…. that was until I got Malignant Melanoma myself.
At the age of 21, I had just celebrated my 1 year wedding anniversary and I was 7 months pregnant. I had a funny little mole that was small but it changed color and so I went to the Dermatologist and had him check it out. Sure enough, I had Stage 1 Melanoma. Being 7 months pregnant, I was terrified. Melanoma is a scary kind of cancer. If you don’t catch it early your chances of survival of more than 5 years is 10 percent. I had surgery the next day and the doctors got it out.
A few months later, after I had my daughter, it returned. I have read stories of Melanoma returning and turning out bad the second time around. I also had a little girl now that needed me. I had surgery the next day. I can’t tell you how it feels waiting for the phone call to tell you that you are clear or if you have to go back for more. It is the worst experience I have ever had. Luckily on January 16th, 2008, I got the call saying that it was all the way gone. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to be here and how blessed I am to have caught it so early.
My Grandmother died at a young age from Melanoma leaving my Mother when she was only 15 years old. So not only am I writing this for myself but also for my Grandmother. And maybe I could help educate someone else.
I have done a lot of research and worked with the Huntsman Cancer Institute in SLC, UT so I thought I would share with you some interesting facts.
1. If you get a sunburn before the age of 18 you are twice as likely to get Melanoma.
2. SUNSCREEN!!! Even driving in your car can get you a sunburn (especially on your hands)
3. White shirts in the summer do not protect you. Wear sunscreen even on the areas where your shirt covers.
4. Yes- you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day
5. If you don’t wear sunscreen yourself… please put it on your children!
6. Tanning in a tanning bed is one of the worst things you can do to your skin. It is even worse than the sun.
Being “Tan” might be beautiful… . but to me living to see my kids and grandkids grow up is so much more important. My husband loves me for the white glow-in-the-dark girl that I am. And I’m proud to say that I am VERY WHITE! (And so are my children!)
If you would like to know more about Melanoma check out the video: Dear 16 Year Old Me. It is very educational – and I just plain love it.
Kristen – The Second Sister in this crazy group of all girls!