I Had Melanoma: Tips That I Now Follow To Try to Protect My Family From Skin Cancer ~ Trendy Mom Reviews
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

I Had Melanoma: Tips That I Now Follow To Try to Protect My Family From Skin Cancer

If you follow regularly, you know that I recently had my beautiful baby boy.  Something that I haven't shared until now is that I had Melanoma. It was caught early and I am fine, but it was a scary experience that changed my view of the world.  In today's post, I hope to connect with you to give you tips to protect your family because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

My Story

During pregnancy, I noticed changes in my skin.  I thought that it was unfortunate that my skin was dry and that I had light brown patches on my face (called Melasma). I also had changes in moles and seborrheic keratoses on my back. I thought that these were just cosmetic issues related to hormonal changes during pregnancy.  I actually skipped my annual skin exam by rationalizing that my OB wasn't worried.  After all, I've had annual skin exams for years and a dozen moles removed without any reports of skin cancer over the years.  I thought that even if there were patches of skin to remove and test that I wouldn't want to have the local anesthesia to remove them while I was pregnant. 

After my baby was born, I scheduled my annual skin check. Honestly, I only scheduled it because I met my deductible for the year and wanted to fit every medical visit possible into the calendar year since my insurance would cover everything at 100%. (Does this sound familiar? We are all busy and take our children to their annual exams, but often procrastinate on our own exams unless there is a motivation such as surpassing our deductible.)

On the day of my visit to the dermatologist, my skin check was the secondary thing on my mind as I was anxious to ask for my dermatologist's advice about whether photo facial and hydra facial treatments would remove the brown spots on my face and make my skin look more radiant.  However, this quickly slipped to a lower priority during my exam when my doctor identified two areas on my back that looked suspicious.  She removed two skin growths. One was a large shave biopsy while the other was a larger area that required some stitches.  I remember telling my husband that I wasn't sure about the doctor because she removed such a large patch and even commented about how she had to stitch the sample of skin that she removed to hold it together.  I was mainly disappointed that I had stitches in my back. 

A few weeks later, the results came back. The area from the shave biopsy was fine, but the larger area that she removed was cancerous. In addition to having the skin removed, I then had suspicious lymph nodes surgically removed.  In general, none of this was too painful. The worst part was having general anesthesia and waiting for results. I was lucky that everything went well and I received a clean bill of health. I feel fortunate for early detection.  My dermatologist and cancer geneticist recommend that I now have skin checks every six months for the rest of my life because I am high risk and skin cancers are easier to treat when caught early.  I happily schedule these preventative appointments because I know that early detection is key!  In the remainder of this post, I'll share tips for how I changed our family's lifestyle after my experience with Melanoma.

Tips That I Now Follow To Try to Protect My Family From Skin Cancer

1. Visit your dermatologist for regular skin exams. 
Take your family for annual skin exams.  It's much easier to treat skin cancer in early stages. Your doctor should look you over from head to toes. My doctor takes photos and notes the sizes of moles so that she is able to monitor changes over time.  This makes it easier to notice suspicious changes.

2. Don't assume that changes to your skin are harmless and due to pregnancy.
I thought that all of my skin changes were due to hormonal changes from pregnancy.  However, I was wrong.  Some changes were due to pregnancy, but I also had a patch of Melanoma that could have killed me if it wasn't removed.  Early detection saved my life.  Never make excuses for skipping your annual exam!

3. Wear UVF 50+ Swimwear.
In addition to wearing sunscreen, my entire family now wears trendy UV protection swimwear.  Personally, we wear SnapperRock swimwear that provides UV protection from 98% of all harmful rays. My husband and I wish that we would have had SnapperRock protection as a children because it could have prevented a lot of our sun damage. 

We love that SnapperRock's swimwear is extremely comfortable. They use lightweight, breathable, and quick drying fabric.  As a mom of two young children, it's sometimes challenging to convince them to take a break to reapply their sunscreen. The UVF 50+ swimwear is nice because it cuts back on the amount of skin that I need to slather sunblock. UV protection clothing covers a lot of their skin, so it is easier to quickly reapply their sunscreen and let them get back to playing quickly.  My husband and I feel more carefree thanks to the UV protection that SnapperRock provides.  I recommend SnapperRock to all of our friends and family because it's such a simple and powerful way to protect your family's skin.

In addition to the practical features of SnapperRock swimwear, I also love their stylish designs. As a mom of boys, I have always been a bit envious of matching mother-daughter outfits. Thanks to SnapperRock, I was actually able to find coordinated swimwear to wear with my baby boy!  Check out the outfits below. My outfit includes the Women's Capri Short Sleeve Rash Top and Women's Waiheke Stripe Triangle Bikini Bottom. My baby's outfit is the Navy Hampton Fish Short Sleeve Sunsuit.

My baby is so cozy in his little outfit. I'm trying my best to keep his skin safe from the sun, so it's nice that he likes his SnapperRock outfit.

My husband and oldest son also look stylish in their board shorts and rash guard tops. My husband wears the Men's Hampton Fish Board Board Shorts with a Men's Navy Long Sleeve Rash Top. My son wears the Boy's Red Hampton Fish Board Board Shorts with the Slate & White Short Sleeve Rash Top.  Their coordinated looks also complement the fashions that I wear with my baby.  

It's fun to have trendy fashions that also offer such powerful UV protection.

4. Protect your skin year round with sunscreen. 
A common mistake that people make is to skip wearing sunscreen during cold weather. The sun is still strong and capable of causing skin damage even if the temperature is cold.  Wear your sunscreen all year round. 

5. Avoid peak hours of the sun.

Whenever possible, try to plan your outdoor activities for early in the morning or later afternoon when the sun is not as strong.  The UV light is strongest between 10am-3pm during standard time and 11-4pm during daylight savings time.

Finally, my experience was not bad thanks to early detection. Let me point you to some other personal stories of others who have had a variety of experiences: American Academy of Dermatology - Personal Stories, SkinCancer.org - True Stories, and Melanoma.org - Patient Stories.

Learn More

Some of the websites that I recommend for you to visit include: SnapperRock, Skincancer.org, and Melanoma.org.  

If you are concerned about skin cancer and need someone to talk to, please feel welcome to email me. I'm not a medical professional, but I am a mom who is a good listener and sympathizes that it is a stressful experience.

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