Hi there, my name is Caitlin Grosvenor, and I am a melanoma survivor. I was diagnosed with melanoma when I was 18 years old, just a few weeks shy of graduating from high school. I had been using a tanning bed since I was 16 years old. I had watched others around me fake tan, lay out in the sun, etc., and it did not seem like a big deal to me. My mother even had a tanning bed in her home office when I was younger. I was tanning in a bed every day for the longest amount of time at the highest level for 2 years. A few months before I graduated, I went to the gynecologist for an annual pap smear. Thank god I did.
During the pap, my doctor said she noticed a dark spot down in that area that had not been there a few months ago. She asked to do a shave biopsy, so I let her. (OUCH!!) About a week and a half later, I got the call … I was on my way home from school when my doctor told me the news. I had cancer. At that moment, I pulled over into an HEB parking lot as I tried to understand the words she was saying. She said, “Caitlin, you have cancer. It is melanoma and we are going to need to do surgery.” I started to sob. I did not know what to do, I was only 18. I was scared. So I scheduled an appointment with my dermatologist. I went in and she informed me I had Stage II melanoma.
I had two surgeries to remove all of the cancer because the first did not remove it all. I had to walk across my graduation stage with stitches from the surgery. I have been cancer free since June 2009. My biggest challenge was the lifestyle change. I have to wear sunscreen daily. I cannot stay in the sun near as long as other people, and if I am in the sun, I stay covered for the most part. I was never warned about the dangers of tanning beds. If I would have known what the consequences could be I would have stayed away.
If kids knew the danger and risks of tanning beds, some would think twice about getting in one. I know I would have. I am now very active with the banning of minors from using tanning beds. I think it needs to be a law in every state to protect them from going through the same thing I did.