This year the American Academy of Dermatology is asking you to make sure that your skin is “Looking Good in 2016” by checking it for signs of skin cancer. To drive this closer to home, I want you to read my best friend Ava’s story…yes, the same Ava – Broad A of The Review Broads.
Meet My Best Friend Ava
Most of us are in a rush getting off to work in the morning, or taking the kids to school or making lunches…and we forget to use our sunscreen. My best friend Ava grew up in Miami and was diagnosed with melanoma on her face under her right eye at the age of 26. Ava and I were of that generation that tanned, the darker the better, as there was no dermatologist on our list of doctors to go to! She had no idea that the small mole under her eye had any intention of becoming skin cancer. I asked her if there was anything unusual about her skin, and she remembers getting burned and blistering often. “Those were just the days when my husband wanted me tanned and fit, and sitting on the beach in the sun was simply what we did! It was like applying lipstick. We had no awareness that we were playing with skin cancer fire! We were more concerned about how we looked and never got the correlation between soaking in the rays and skin cancer.” When she told me the story of being diagnosed with melanoma directly under her eye, she said how very frightened she was because skin cancer at that young age was not yet mentioned in the media, nor did our doctors warn us. She talked about how the surgeon said that the surgery to remove the cancer might pull her right eye down as they had to go deeply into the skin. I remember she said she was so afraid that she told the plastic surgeon it was her face and he had better not leave a scar! Luckily, she had the surgery and has not gone out in the sun unprotected or tanned at all in 50 years since, and has remained skin cancer free.
Today We ARE Aware!
Ava says she uses sunscreen every single day, SPF 50, and sees her dermatologist once a year, as now there are ways to treat precancerous spots. According to AAD, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and it is estimated that one person dies from melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — every hour. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Skin Cancer Facts (I know I’ve mentioned them before, but they are important)
I know I’ve mentioned the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma before, but they are important to know!
- Look for asymmetry. One half doesn’t match the other.
- Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
- Color that varies from one area to another.
- Be aware of diameter Melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
- Look for a mole or skin lesion that is evolving. Specifically, if it looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
As A Wife, I Find That I’m The One Who Makes Mr. S’ Appointments
I know a lot of women take charge of the entire family’s health care appointments, so I’m asking YOU to get on the phone and make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist if you see any suspicious spots on your loved one’s skin. As the AAD’s humorous new PSA says, men ages 50+ are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population, and if they’re anything like Mr. S, they would put off seeing a doctor if I didn’t schedule it for him.
What Are You Waiting For?
Free SPOTme® skin cancer screenings are available year-round, and offered across the country. All dates and locations for these screenings can be accessed on AAD’s site here. It’s time to have your skin checked for skin cancer and go see a dermatologist, especially if you find any new or suspicious spots.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Academy of Dermatology. The opinions and text are all mine.