I am confident a simple visit to a dermatologist in 1987 saved my life. I was a young carefree 21 year old woman who just returned from 8 months of travel, mainly to Hawaii and Australia. I worshipped the sun and I loved the look of my young bronzed skin-little did I know what I was doing to my body at the time. Keep in mind in 1987, melanoma was a word people barely knew. I sunbathed topless, I sunbathed every single day, & I sunbathed with bottles and bottles of babyoil. The thought of that tanning ritual makes me cringe right now and makes me regret every minute of it.
When I returned to the USA I noticed a brown spot on my left breast. I had no idea what this spot meant, it just looked like a mole or new freckle to me. But really, it was the size of an eraser, it’s color was a mix of brown and red, and it’s shape was a bit irregular. Without giving it too much thought, and with gentle persuasion from my Mother, I went to a Planned Parenthood clinic and they immediately recommmended a dermatologist. After a couple visits to my dermatologist, a couple simple biopsies, I was diagnosed with atypical nevus, R/O melanoma.
In terms easy to understand, I was able to catch my melanoma from spreading and thankfully, I just needed to have more biopsies to make sure everything was under control. It was and it still is. From 1987 I saw my dermatologist 4 times a year for a few years, then 3 times, then 2 times, and now at 43 I visit the same dermatologist and his partner (who is his wife) once a year. I also ended up teaching their child Kindergarten who is now getting ready to attend Harvard. Visiting them is a pleasure in more ways than one. They know my skin so well and I feel so happy knowing I connected with two wonderful Doctors. I cannot convince people enough, especially young people to go “get checked!” Plus, you’ll never realize what kind of lessons may come of it!