Emily’s personal story…
As a teenager, and as far back as I can remember, I enjoyed being in the sun. We would regularly take family trips to the beach, I would regularly lay in the sun with my friends, etc. I generally used sunscreen, but wasn’t usually too concerned with re-applying as I should. When I was 17 years old, I got a job at a local tanning salon. I worked there from 17-19 and tanned at least 3 days a week, sometimes more, for an average of 20 minutes per session. During that time of working there/using the tanning bed regularly, I continued my “sun-bathing” practices. The tanning bed usage decreased when I went to college, but I did still visit, maybe a handful of times per month, but nothing near what I had done previously.
I have always had a lot of freckles and moles and never paid a whole lot of attention to them, but did happen to notice a mole on my upper left thigh at the age of 24 or 25. It was small, dark and looked fairly normal, but over time I noticed it started to change. The borders began to become more jagged, the middle became a little bit raised, and it grew (in diameter). I continued to watch it for about a year, until finally I showed my mom and asked her what she thought. She immediately agreed that it did not look normal, and urged me to get it looked at.
I scheduled a dermatologist appointment with Dr. Brodell to look at the spot. He did not seem too concerned, but decided to remove it to be safe and sent to the lab for analysis. He admitted he was pretty surprised when it in fact came back as melanoma. At that time, he referred me to Dr. William Black for a biopsy. They removed a fairly large portion of tissue out of my thigh around the mole area to test the surrounding tissue. It (Thank God) came back negative and had not spread. No major treatment was required, and I have check-ups (full body checks) every 6 months for 3 years and every year after that for the rest of my life. (I was 26 at the time of diagnosis and 27 now.)
Since then, at my first check up just 2 weeks ago, they found another concerning spot, and removed it. Thankfully, it came back as benign.
Used with permission from The Skin Cancer Foundation