Exactly 11 years ago today I had plastic surgery to remove a malignant melanoma on my back. I was only 25 at the time. In some ways it was a blessing to be so young because I was somewhat naïve to what “malignant melanoma” meant and how bad it could have been if caught too late. I visited a dermatologist to have her remove some moles on my face – for completely cosmetic reasons. She insisted on a full skin check. It was the first time I had ever had a full skin check.
She found a suspicious mole between my shoulder blades. Coincidentally, it was the same mole that my husband told me was green following a severe sunburn on a cruise about three months earlier. I wasn’t concerned. After all, I burned at least once per summer. Not to mention my multiple years of tanning bed use. I was a pro when it came to tanning…at least that’s what I thought. That suspicious mole was a Clark’s Level II malignant melanoma.
Fortunately, it was found early and one giant scoop out of my back was all it took to remove all cancer cells. I have since had about 19 surgeries on various spots on my arms, back, legs, and stomach to remove pre-cancerous moles. I have skin checks twice per year at this point. I have two-year-old twins who already know what sunscreen is and won’t go to the pool without their “sunshine lotion.”
I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Jim Schlipman. His battle with melanoma made this so much more real for me. I believe in this fight and want to help educate people like the 25-year-old sun lover who had no clue 11 years ago. I am blessed to be melanoma free!
December 16, 2009
36 Years Old