IN THEIR WORDS

Kelly Scangas

Skin Cancer

As a teen I’d never even heard the word melanoma, but I confess to being a former sun worshipper. “Former” being the key word here. I wanted to have that glow that was naturally out of my reach so I made the most of sunny days and the tanning bed that had a home in my parents’ hair salon.

Melanoma didn’t officially enter my life until my early 20’s. But since then I’ve endured 23 biopsies and over 100 stitches across different sites on my body. I’ve got 50 stitches in the shape of a football on my stomach and I even had to face a terrifying operation to remove suspicious cells from my eye. In total, I’ve had 7 different procedures to address this melanoma that continues to lurk in my system.

Was the tan really worth all this? I now have 4 dermatology visits on my calendar each year and even squeeze in 2 additional ones with a specialist. I’m a freak when it comes to sun exposure and while I wish I weren’t so hyper around my kids, I’ll do whatever it takes to spare them from being told they have skin cancer.

I know every nuance of every mole on my body and whenever I suspect a change (or my husband or a friend – or stranger on the street) suspects something off, I’m getting checked. That vigilance has ensured that each of my melanomas so far has been Stage I.

Learn from what I went through – what I’m still going through. Slap on the sunscreen. Make it a routine. Get some cute sunglasses that block out the rays. Get to know your skin and if you suspect a change, even if you can’t identify what might look different, get yourself checked out. It takes no time at all and yet it could make all the difference in the world.

Really – was the tan really worth it?

"Really - was the tan really worth it?"

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