Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Dana Opens Up on Her Melanoma Experience

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I can’t believe it’s been two years since I first opened up about my experience with Melanoma!

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. When I was 24, I was diagnosed with Superficial Spreading Melanoma on my right leg. Today, I’m revisiting my story in honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

In October 2013, I noticed a funny black spot on my arm, so I found a dermatologist and scheduled an appointment. In addition to the spot on my arm, the dermatologist noticed a small birthmark on my leg that he suggested we check out. He took a small biopsy and assured me it was likely nothing.

Two weeks later I got a phone call— the spot on my arm was fine, but my dermatologist asked that I come back to talk about the birthmark on my leg. I left that second visit with two pieces of paper in my hand: lab results confirming that the spot on my leg was Superficial Spreading Melanoma, and an appointment confirmation to have the melanoma removed the following week.

Though I had never heard of the disease until that day, Superficial Spreading Melanoma is the most common of all skin cancers. It's also the type most commonly found in young people. Like all skin cancers, it is the least invasive when caught and treated early.

My treatment plan was simple: remove the melanoma as quickly as possible and schedule a series of follow-up appointments with specialists to confirm the melanoma had not grown or spread. Those were scary days, but I’m grateful to say that after an emotional rollercoaster of doctor’s appointments, blood work, and physical exams, I was in the clear.

My journey isn’t entirely over, nor will it ever be. In the last two years, I have remained melanoma-free, confirmed by my twice-annual skin exams with my dermatologist. I feel incredibly grateful that nothing new has popped up, but I know I need to continue being diligent about sun protection for the rest of my life. For me, this means staying out of direct sunlight, wearing SPF daily, and keeping my skin covered with cover-ups and hats in warmer months.

I want to encourage everyone reading this to PLEASE schedule a skin check with your dermatologist. You can also do a self-check at home. It’s quick, painless, and it could save your life.