My Melanoma Story

Shannon HueyShannon Huey, Clinical Medical Assistant and Precert Specialist in our office, shares her very personal story of melanoma and encourages us to be skin aware!

“You dodged a bullet.” That’s what my dermatologist told me when I got my first melanoma. He said it was a good thing that I came in to have the spot checked out. Being 38 years old and having 2 little kids to raise, I was pretty surprised and concerned to learn this had actually happened to me. I never thought it would happen.

Southern sun, love of tanning, led to skin cancer

I grew up in Charleston and loved spending days at the beach, sunbathing at home, and going to the tanning salon. I’ve always been fair-skinned, so I worked hard for a tan. I used tanning oil, baby oil, tanning accelerator, and anything else I thought would help me tan. Boy would I love to be able to go back in time and knock some sense into myself!

Early detection saved my skin, and my life

I’ve been getting my skin checks religiously since and have had 2 more melanomas excised. I cannot stress enough how important early detection is. My first melanoma started to invade and would have metastasized had it not been caught in time.

I now wear sunscreen anytime I’m out in the sun and I wear sun shirts which work great. Please use your sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) and make sure your kids are protected as well! One sunburn alone can put you at higher risk of developing skin cancer. Dermatologists also recommend getting your skin checked yearly because melanoma and other skin cancers can pop up at any time. I am very thankful for dermatologists! They have literally saved my life!

Consider these facts from the Melanoma Research Foundation about this cancer:

Melanoma Prevention Facts

  • Nearly 90% of melanomas are thought to be caused by exposure to UV light and sunlight.
  • It takes only one blistering sunburn, especially at a young age, to more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.
  • Prevent melanoma by seeking shade whenever possible, wearing protective clothing, avoiding direct sunlight between 10am-4pm and using broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day.

Follow these “dos” from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery,

Do…

Reduce sun exposure. Minimize your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Sun-protective clothing such as sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves and pants also can help protect your skin.

Use sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen every day with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and with both UVA and UVB protection.

Stay out of tanning beds. Avoid exposure to tanning beds and artificial tanning devices.

Recognize the ABCDEs of moles and melanoma. During your self-examinations, look for the following warning signs in skin lesions: Asymmetry (not uniform in appearance), Border irregularity (jagged or irregular borders), Color variability, Diameter larger than a pencil eraser and Evolving or changing moles. Any changing skin lesion should be examined by a dermatologist.

If you notice a suspicious mole or lesion, schedule a visit with a board-certified dermatologist, who is uniquely trained and experienced in the management of diseases of the skin, hair and nails and is your most reliable source for the continued protection and health of your skin.

CDC The Truth About Tanning Infographic

Click to download this infographic as a PDF

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