Education, prevention and support for the most serious form of skin cancer.

Kelli Pedroia

My name is Kelli Pedroia. Yes, my last name may sound familiar to you. My  husband is Dustin Pedroia the 2nd baseman for the Red Sox.  However, today I  am not writing about the Red Sox or how they are doing. I want to discuss  something much more important, skin cancer. Just a few short years ago I was  in high school following along with what everyone else was doing. I had  always loved the sun and loved the feeling of being tan. Growing up I had a  pool in my backyard so we were always out in the sun and most of the time  not protecting myself.  When I was a sophomore in high school I went to a  tanning salon for the first time. It was to be the first time of many.  Throughout the course of high school, I continued to lie out in the sun  without protection and continued to go to a tanning salon. After all many of  my friends worked there after school so it was a fun place to be. The summer  before my senior year a big group of my friends and I worked at an outdoor  water park so we could achieve the best tan possible. I graduated high school in 2001 and thought that everything was perfect.

During my freshman year of college my family and I went away to the  Caribbean for spring break. I came home with the best tan of anyone! I fried  myself only using oil, not even thinking of the consequences that would  haunt me a few months down the road. Spring break was over and back to  school I went. Two and a half months later I went to the doctor for a  routine visit. At the end of the appointment I casually mentioned to my  doctor that I had a mole on my right thigh that had changed recently. Ever  since spring break it had become asymmetrical, raised and red around the  edges – three red flags for melanoma. We immediately made a follow up  appointment. to get the mole cut off. I knew something wasn’t right but I  never expected it to be what it was. A week later the doctor called my  parent’s and me into her office.  June 11, 2002 is a day I will never  forget.  She told me my results came back positive for melanoma. Mela-what I  said? I had no idea what melanoma was but I knew it wasn’t good.

I learned quickly that melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. At the  young age of 18 I was the youngest patient my doctor had ever seen with it.  I was ushered off to oncologists, dermatologists and surgeons all for this  little mole that I got from laying out in the sun. When it was over and done  I had a chunk taken out of my right thigh the size of a large egg and lymph  nodes taken out of my groin area to make sure that the cancer hadn’t spread.  Trust me, those scars that are permanently on my body were not worth the  self image I felt I needed to live up to with a tan. My results came back  perfectly clear, all the cancer was gone.

I was in the clear and thought that it was a fluke that I had the melanoma.  I was young and thought that I was invincible and it would never come back.  Guess what? I was wrong. After continuing to lie out in the sun two years  later the cancer came back. I had to have more skin cut out, this time out  of my clavicle – yet another scar to add to my growing list all for a desire  to have a tan. A year after that I had to have more skin cancer removed from  my neck. Now four bad scars later I have finally learned a lesson the hard  way. Not a single one of those scars were worth my desire to follow what  everyone else was doing and have a tan.

Fast forward to today. I am now 100% healthy. Cancer free and plan on  staying that way. I am here to tell you ways to prevent yourself from the  same mistakes that I made. I only wish I knew then what I know now.

Many people including my husband spend several hours outside a day. For all  of you athletes out there this goes for you too. Applying sunscreen takes  less than two minutes and trust me it is worth the time. Before a day game  or during the hot days of spring training Dustin makes sure to apply  sunscreen to protect himself from the bad UVA and UVB rays.  Some easy sun  safety tips to remember are to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.  It is also important to know to re-apply every two hours.  Along with  sunscreen make sure to wear protective clothing. This would include long  sleeved shirts, a hat and sunglasses. If possible it is best to avoid the  peak sun hours which are between 10:00am and 2:00pm. If that is not possible  your next best solution is to seek shade. Protecting yourself from skin  cancer and its damaging effects start now not years down the road. The  statistics of the age at which skin cancer and melanoma arise are alarming  and getting younger and younger.

So now hopefully you are inspired to better yourselves by protecting your  skin from the sun and tanning beds. I have teamed up with IMPACT Melanoma’s program called, “Your Skin Is In.” This program  is geared at high school juniors and seniors to have students sign a  No-Tanning pledge saying that before your prom you pledge to not go in a  tanning bed or go outside for the purpose of getting a tan.  By getting 70%  of your class to sign the pledge you will be entered in a drawing to win  money for your school. My wish for your school is that I will be able to  visit your school with a $1,000 check to present to you for all of your  efforts in protecting yourself from the sun.  Remember the new trend these  days is not to be tan, no matter what the color of your skin is, Your Skin Is In!

Return to the main Survivor Stories page

Events  |  News  |  Blog

Copyright © 2017 IMPACT Melanoma, formerly the Melanoma Foundation of New England. All rights reserved.     Disclaimer