The largest organ we have is our skin. Skin protects us from sunlight, heat, infection, and injury. According to the National Cancer Institute, it also stores water, vitamin D, and fat. Skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation is caused by damage to DNA of skin cells – which is the result of ultraviolet radiation from either the sun or tanning beds. Basically, your skin cells are abnormal, and they grow uncontrollably.
MedlinePlus says that anyone can get skin cancer and it is the most common cancer in the United States. There are many types of cancer, but melanoma is the most dangerous. Melanoma will present itself as a change in color, shape, size, or feel of a mole. Melanomas may appear black-blue or black, and may be abnormal and ‘ugly.’ In Austin, Texas, Bethany Gambardella-Greenway, 39, saw a dark spot on her skin in 2015 when she was pregnant.
She thought the spot was the result of hormonal changes and didn’t get it checked out. When she finally went to the doctor, the dermatologist told her that it was just a liver spot.
But 18 months later the mole was painful, and Bethany went to see a dermatologist.
It wasn’t a liver spot, it was desmoplastic melanoma, an invasive as well as an aggressive form of skin cancer.
The mole was removed, but the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and bones.
In 2016, Bethany, a mother of two, underwent immunotherapy. Bethany is sharing her personal and painful journey, so other people don’t have to go through what she did.
Bethany is encouraging people to stop going to tanning salons or sun bathing.
If you do find yourself outside in the sun, be sure to wear sunscreen. Bethany says that a tan is really just damaged skin.
Bethany says that the radiation treatments were the worst, the pain was indescribable.
Her skin was covered in sores, her voice was hoarse, and she lost the ability to taste food.
Three weeks into treatment, her hair started to fall out in the area of the treatment.
Bethany lost 40 pounds through the course of her treatment – her treatments are finished, and she is cancer free!
You should never ignore any change in an existing mole or when a new mole appears.
Please share this story with your friends! It is important to get the word out about skin cancer – no one is immune!
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends people use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
If you are outside every day, you should use a broad spectrum sunscreen that is waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
Early detection is important too, see your doctor yearly.