Women over 40 beauty, Skincare, Fashion, Fitness and Lifestyle

I love the month of May!

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The bugs and the humidity typically haven’t arrived for the duration of summer, but it’s gorgeous enough to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.  One thing I won’t do is go outside without my sunscreen on. Every day, no matter the season, I wear sunscreen on my face. I don’t avoid the outdoors as that’s just not healthy. But protection is a must. I may be more vigilant than the typical person and I want to share my personal experience about the importance of skin cancer.

Mole

Several years ago I was at the dermatologist to get some medication for a patch of eczema that I had. It was then that I told my doctor that I had never had a skin cancer screening and should do one sometime.  She said there was no time like the present.  See, I was that fair skinned, green eyed gal who as a teenager grew up in the times that we didn’t really wear sunscreen, we wore baby oil instead. Outdoor living was a must (I grew up on a farm) and I always knew I’d get sunburned, it was just a matter of how badly my skin burned. Sunscreen wasn’t talked about then like it is now and I had a father who was very dark skinned, so it wasn’t something we had in our house. As I’ve aged more “sun spots” have appeared on my shoulders and I just wasn’t ever clear if they were anything to worry about.  That wasn’t what concerned my doctor. On my lower back, which would probably be considered an area right above the bikinis I wore as a teen, there was a spot she didn’t like. It was so tiny I couldn’t even see it in the mirror when I looked. It was pre-melanoma that was tested and found to be very aggressive. More was cut out and the area has been clean ever since. Then 6 months later another one was discovered on my leg.  This began my vigilance about wearing sunscreen and getting annual skin checkups.

Fast forward about 5 years and this past winter I was in for my annual skin check. She said everything looked good, but there was a mole, very, very tiny that bothered me. It wasn’t any of the 5 typical signs of melanoma or other skin cancers. But something about it continued to bother me so I said I would rather just have it removed than always wonder.  Good thing I did.  A few weeks later the pathology report came back with pre-melanoma.  With my history my doctor wanted me back into the office in 3 months for an additional check. So about a month ago I went back in for my 3 month follow-up and I asked them to remove another tiny mole that started to make me wonder since the last one came back with a not so good report. This one again was on my leg, very tiny, but like the last one it bothered me.  She said OK, for peace of mind we’ll remove it, but under the scope it looks good.  I have a strong gut feeling and I’m glad I followed my instincts.  A few weeks later they called me to say this too was pre-melanoma and I needed to come back in for this one because they needed to take more out.  5 stitches later it’s all cleared.

I will continue to stress the importance of annual skincare checks, and to follow your instincts, and of course to always wear sunscreen.  I can’t magically change what I did to my skin in my youth, but I can do everything to prevent further damage or catch potential danger. I was recently reading that if you’ve had pre-melanoma 4 times that your chances of melanoma rise by 27%. That’s a number I don’t particularly like.  Check with your insurance, many plans include skin cancer checks as part of cancer prevention and are covered on the plans.

The image above is of one of the moles they removed that was pre-melanoma.

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