Cancer is a Scary Thing

December 1, 2008

Here is me with my sister, Beth. 10.18.08

Here I am (right) with my sister, Beth. 10.18.08

For those of you who know my sister, Beth, you’re probably already aware of her recent cancer diagnosis.  The great news is that the doctor cleared her, saying it was all removed during the procedure.

During a family function this past summer, our cousin, Tracy, told us that she had a few moles she was nervous about and decided it was time to go see a dermatologist.  A few weeks and a few surgeries later, it was revealed that she had pre-cancerous moles on her back and belly.  This freaked my sister and I out, especially given our horrid family history of “bad stuff”.  So Beth decided to have her “funny mole” looked at.  Her dermatologist took a mole off her back, sort of routinely, not expecting it to be anything at all.  It turned out to be malignant melanoma.

The thing about melanoma is that it can spread to other areas of the body.  If it spreads to your lymph nodes, there’s a 60% survival rate.  If it goes to another organ in the body, there’s only a 20% survival rate.  Scary stuff.

This is an example of a melanoma caught early

This is an example of a melanoma caught early

A bit worse of a melanoma (I'll spare you the really gross pictures.)

A bit worse of a melanoma

Beth has now had two surgeries and been evaluated by an oncologist.  It doesn’t look like it was deep enough to require chemo or radiation.  So they’re going to keep a close eye on her and make sure nothing new pops up. 

The Melanoma Awareness Ribbon is black

The Melanoma Awareness Ribbon is black

 

Risk factors for malignant melanoma include: fair skin, many moles, one or more blistering sunburns before the age of 12, and most significant is a positive family history.  And the back/shoulders, face and back of the calves are common places for melanoma to pop up. 

SUNSCREEN IS YOUR FRIEND!  Please don’t get caught up in the “Oh, I need a tan!” craze.  The best thing you can do is use sunscreen.  People laugh at me because after my vacations to Florida and Mexico, there was no sign of me having been in the sun–SPF 45 all the way, baby!  That’s alright, I’ll take alabaster white skin over the risk of cancer any day.

So please, please, please….make an appointment with a dermatologist for a mole-mapping.  They’ll identify any suspicious moles and have them removed.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.  And I am practicing what I’m preaching–I have an upcoming appointment myself.
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One Response to “Cancer is a Scary Thing”

  1. Corie said

    What a good picture of you and Beth! :o) I am so, so relieved that it looks like they “got it all” for Beth. I can only imagine how scary it would be to hear, “You have cancer.” Good for you for getting checked out. I need to do that myself. God knows I’ve had a few too many blistering sunburns in my life. (I fell asleep in the sun in Florida when I was probably 8 and blistered so badly I couldn’t wear sleeved shirts.) And of course it’s obvious how many moles I have! Thanks for the reminder…and I’ll be crossing my fingers and saying a little prayer that all goes well with your appointment!

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