Monday, March 28, 2011

5 years and Cancer Free

Today I drove down to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the U of U.  I have been going for about 5 years every 6 months.  And today I was diagnosed as Cancer Free! And no signs of 'new sites' were found.  I haven't had another incidence of Melanoma since my first two initial sites in 2005.  Why did I get this type of Cancer (the worst type of skin cancer to have) at such young age?  Well first (and probably)  foremost...I was a sun- worship- er.  I loved laying out and had the mind frame of; summer =tan skin.  When I spent a year in Hawaii, I again thought; tropical weather = tan skin.  How lame was I!?  I got MULTIPLE sunburns.  Some bad enough I would blister and peel and ache.  I  also have melanoma in my family.  Not an immediate relation but my grandpa (on my dad's side) had it (found in a mole on his back) when he was in his 40's.   Additionally, I have all the right body defaults that make me more prone to getting it. 


(not necessarily blonde), but...LIGHT HAIR

(An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer.)

Here are my two scars from surgery (to remove the Melanoma Moles)-one on my abdomen...

...and one hideous one on my back...about right- dab in the middle...definitely visible with a swim suit.  BTW, the procedures were NOT fun or comfortable.  Healing time was painful and long- lived...but it could have been ALOT worse. (I'm definitely not complaining)
Obviously I am not sharing this because I am proud of my scars or my past...but to reveal the consequences of sun damage (apart from wrinkly, dry, leathery skin).  I have learned my own personal lesson and have a couple friends who have gone thru the same thing as I have.  I also know someone that died at a young age (with young children) from Melanoma.  Both of my 'sites' were considered  'insitu' meaning the outermost layer (hallelujah).  So I have an 80% chance of NOT getting a third mole involvement.  Fingers crossed. 
I know this is kind of nasty to look at...but some moles can get this bad...mine did NOT look this obvious and I wouldn't have picked them out myself (until they got to this point). I only went in for an overall check (because my mom made me); and the Dermatologist found a few that looked suspicious - two of those ended up being Melanoma.  The smart thing to do...(esp. as spring and summer beckon)...go see a DERMATOLOGIST, (not just a regular doctor) if you have ANY abnormal areas or have  a history of 'loving the sun'.   A great referring website from WebMD...go here
Info from my dermatologist himself...Most products contain sunscreens...they prevent sunburn and may protect against both UVA and UVB, but they are short lasting.  More effective products also contain sunblocks (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) which reflect UV rays and are longer lasting.  He recommends products that contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Some examples...Blue Lizard, Vanicream Sensitive Skin SPF 30, Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 or Sun Protective Swimwear (
If anyone has any advice, stories or personal experiences with anything related to this topic. Please share.  Kuddos. Be safe and smart this summer! 


Diane Wright said...

You are definately one of the lucky ones and a double thanks to your Mom for insisting you go in for the check. I hope you can say 90 years cancer free. Keep checking. Great information for all your sun loving sister-in-laws too.

cheeks said...

i am one of those sun-loving sister in laws, but probably not the ones gma di is speaking of :)

every time i get the urge to go tanning i think of you...and refrain. i've even been turned orange once from a spray tan, cuz of you (or this thought)...but i'm sure my skin thanked me for it!

way to go on 5 years! My best friend angi had melanoma in her leg just after you had yours, she was pregnant w/ twins at the time. Scary! she has brown hair and hazel eyes and wasn't a total sun worshiper...but did tan occasionally. her scar is serisouly at least 9 inches long down the front of her shin. it can happen to anyone! thanks for the reminder...i actually had a couple moles i was thinking i needed to have ck the other day. i'll make an appt :)

love you!

Katie said...

I am calling tomorrow! I'm completely freaked out now. Let's just say me and Kristen used to use vegetable oil and lay out on the roof! Then there was my summer of swimming lessons and river trips...and then the 2 1/2 months in Mexico during college. I had to work way to hard for my tans....soooo not healthy.

Congrats on the 5 years and thank you for the reminders and all the links. I really have been meaning to get moles or anything but i meet some of the criteria to be at risk. I'll keep ya posted on the findings.

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Karen said...

YAY you! This is a good thing to think about, thanks for the info!

Mindy and Marty said...

This is a partial comment from my friend from a post I made after this one....this type of cancer really is pretty prevelant....

My cousin is 30 with 2 young girls and has been stage 4 melanoma for 2years. She's had it for about 5 years total. She is a fighter and proves how truly blessed you are to be doing so great!