Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cancer can't be cute, right?

Amy's melanoma. Not what you'd expect, right?
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when this image caught my eye. It was posted by Amy Harris Parks, a stage I melanoma survivor who had a similar tumor depth as me. Amy's caption said: "My melanoma. Just a small freckle changing colors and had a slight haze around it. Not all melanomas are BIG, BLACK, and SCARY! Please protect your skin!"

Amy has generously allowed me to share her picture because, unfortunately, I never thought to take one of my own. People often ask me: "How did you know you had skin cancer? How did you know when to go to the dermatologist?" Truth is, I didn't really know until I had a biopsy that my mole was cancerous. Like Amy's, it wasn't big, black, or scary. The only reason why I even went to a dermatologist to have my skin looked at was because I has a history of using tanning beds, and there were a few freckles or moles that had popped up as a result of all the UV exposure (one of those "new" moles ended up being malignant).

A few months before I had the malignant mole biopsied, I asked the guy I was dating: "Do you think this mole is ugly? Do you think I should get it removed?"

"No," he said, "I think it looks cute." Cute? How can cancer be cute?

Last month, the Huffington Post did an article on a survey that suggests nearly half of us don't know how to spot a cancerous mole. This is a frightening statistic because early detection is key in preventing skin cancer-related deaths. The Skin Cancer Foundation has some great information about self-exams on their website, but I also encourage you to see a doctor if you notice any changes in freckles or moles. And remember: it doesn't need to be big and black to be deadly.

How did you find your melanoma? I'd love to hear. Also, if you have any questions for Amy, leave a comment below and she'd be happy to answer them!

42 comments:

  1. Great post. I used to say that MY melanoma was my beautiful mole. I liked the way it looked when I wore tanks, dresses, etc. I had no idea....

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  2. I had a mole on my shoulder my whole life. It just grew a little and couldn't be ignored. Thankfully in situ. But forever in my thoughts. Now I know every freckle by heart. Crazy.

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  3. I wear my scars with pride and I have lots!
    Great post!

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  4. If I hadn't been wearing a low cut at the back top, and, trying a new up-do, and looking in the mirror all at the same time, and noticed a very black flat mole that I had never noticed before I could well have not got it in time. I was already at Stage II. It was pure luck that I found it that day and acted. I am now with a team that monitors me regularly.

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  7. Mine was blue. Yep, blue. Not big, black, and crazy looking, but little and blue. It was on my shoulder and irritated me where my seat belt sat so I went in to have it checked out....stage 3b

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