PSA: Wear Your Sunscreen (Overcoming a Cancer Scare)

Last Update: May 01, 2018

About two months ago, I had blogged regarding a trip Amanda Vin and I took to Hawaii.

During our first day there, I had noticed Amanda had a mole on the back of her leg that had changed drastically from the last time I remembered seeing it.

Changing moles are never a good sign.

We immediately Googled it and looked up as much information as we could. The mole was a direct match for skin cancer, specifically melanoma.

At this point, we are one day in to a two week trip and completely overcome with fear. There wasn't really anything we could do while there short of canceling the trip and coming home early, so we put it in the back of our minds and enjoyed the rest of our stay.

We got home and immediately scheduled an appointment for Amanda at the dermatologist. The doctor took one look at the mole on her leg and said "This doesn't look good" and said it was a 99% chance it was melanoma.

If you are unfamiliar with melanoma, it is the rarest form of skin cancer and it's also the deadliest. It can spread quite quickly and if it burrows down through the layers of your skin and hits your blood stream, it will spread to your lymph nodes, lungs, and brain.

Melanoma survival rates?

With melanoma, the earlier you catch it the better. If you catch it early enough that it hasn't started to burrow into your skin, a small surgery to remove it is all you need and you end up with a 98% survival rate over 5 years. If it spreads and hits Stage 4, your odds drop down to about 15%.

The doctor hit us with that news and did a shave biopsy of the mole. Lab results would take about 10 days to get back.

Hope that you never have to wait for cancer biopsy results because it will be the longest wait of your life.

Every conceivable dark thought will go through your mind no matter how hard you try and fight it. I've never had to consider Amanda's mortality (or really my own) before. I was under the assumption that we would both live forever.

We had just started our family, Vincent is only 9 months old, business is still in a little bit of a lull, and Amanda might have to start battling cancer.

The stress felt insurmountable and all we wanted to know was...

Did we catch it early enough?

After one long agonizing week, we got the results back.

We had caught it extremely early and it was only superficial spreading. The recommended course of action was a wide excision to make sure all cancer cells in the area were removed.

It was about as good of a diagnosis that we could have asked for. Yes, Amanda still needed surgery, but they just had to remove a chunk of her leg and that was it. No lymph node removal, no radiation or chemo, no medicine. Just surgery.

Amanda's surgery went well. She was on crutches for a while, but she is up and moving freely again.

They were able to remove everything and her pathology report came back clear.

Amanda is officially cancer free.

Needless to say, this has been an extremely long and stressful two months. She is still healing and will have to be extra vigilant regarding sun protection and keeping tabs on her skin going forward.

If I can leave you with two things today:

  1. Wear sunscreen.
  2. See a dermatologist.

Skin cancer is easily treated if caught early enough. If you have anything you might be concerned about, just go get checked. You are apparently supposed to see a dermatologist once a year for skin checks. We had never heard that prior to this scare.

Fair skinned, light hair & light eyed people are especially susceptible to skin cancer, but any one of any background or race can get it.

So, that's where I have been the past 60 days or so.

It's been a stress-filled two months that I hope I never have to relive.

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I had my first full bodyscan with a dermatologist over a year ago and two suspicious spots were removed from my body. One on my face and one on my upper back. The one on my face was benign and the one on my back was melanoma. I had to have surgery to remove it and the area around it. Lucky it was caught early and all of it was removed. I have to have 6-month exams with the dermatologist. One other spot has been removed, but it too was benign. Yes, when I was a teenager, I was a sun goddess and laid out in the sun religously. Oh how I wish I had listened to my mother and grandmothers about the dangers of the sun. Sunscreen is very important!!
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Gazella61 Premium
Wow! I'm glad you both acted fast, and that she's okay and cancer free! It makes me want to check out some spots on me. I think they're just age spots, but it definitely doesn't hurt to check it out.

Thank you for putting this out there to remind all of us to check it out when in doubt!
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cookins25 Premium
Wow sorry that you two had to go through all of that, but I'm very glad everything turned out good and that Amanda is cancer free now. :)

I too never hard that you should see a dermatologist once a year -- so I will have to get on that as well.

I hope the rest of the year goes by smoothly. :)
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JeffL61 Premium
That is great news, Steve! The word "cancer" is quite scary due to the fact that we still do not have a definitive cure for that disease. Early detection, such as what happened with Amanda can truly be a life saver.

I do agree 100% with your statement that you made in the article, Steve. Seeking medical consultation when one suspects even the slightest change within his/her body is the best preventive medicine against this insidious disease.

I am so happy to hear that Amanda through undergoing surgery is now medically clear from having cancer!
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lynnsam61 Premium
Sounds very scary and I'm so glad you were able to spot Amanda's early. I grew up in CA and spent many unprotected hours sunbathing using baby oil. I cringe to think of doing this but it was pretty common! Knock on wood I've been lucky so far despite having light hair and eyes. My sister who spent far less time at the beach has had multiple cancers, including melanoma, so I've been getting checked regularly for years.

Erica
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GlenPalo Premium
Glad to hear it has all worked out.

Melanoma may be the rarest of skin cancers. But it is way too many people have or will get it. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common.

Growing up, I spent a great deal of time outside without wearing sunscreen. The "sins" of my past finally caught up with me. I had stage 3 melanoma removed from my upper arm years ago. For follow-up, I had an annual chest x-ray and exam every year for 5 years. Now, I see a dermatologist every 6 months because of the frequency of basal cell carcinoma and my history with melanoma.

I am amazed at how quickly melanoma grows. So I urge everyone to take care of their skin and have regular checkups.
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Zarina Premium
Glad all worked out well, wishing Amanda a speedy recovery!! Crutches definitely shouldn't feel bad at this point, since she knows surgery was with a positive outcome :) Myself, I couldn't walk for 5 months after the surgery, so being mobile at least with crutches now makes me SO happy! Lol.

But man, what a scare you must've gone through. My mom has been telling me, just recently, to stay away from sun because I have a lot of moles on the back but you've convinced me to get them checked again and be more vigilant about it.

Anyway, I am REALLY happy all is well with you and Amanda, and sending her my warmest wishes.

To a speedy recovery!
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IveTriedThat Premium
I can't imagine 5 months of not being able to walk. Amanda was only on crutches for 10 days and she was going stir crazy.
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Zarina Premium
Yeah, I was crying my eyes every. single. day. for 3 months straight. Then I returned back home to Toronto and slowly started healing.

It's good that things turned out well for Amanda (considering) and that she's HOME with her family. It's true when they say that "at home even the walls help". So, I am sure she will get back to normal in no time!!
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mindset1 Premium
I feel your fear. 4 years ago I was diagnosed with an agressive form of prostate cancer. Thank God I've been able to control it with diet and exercise and a few alternative natural treatments. No radiation, no hormone therapy, no chemo. and it still hasn't metastasized yet.

Some prostate cancers are very slow growing and not much to worry about. life expextancy is 10 years or more with minimal treatment, but not mine, I had to get the aggressive one.

I will be getting into alot of stuff about cancer in some of my blogs but I'll keep it short, after all this about you. The one thing I will say is diet, diet, diet.

My point in telling you this is to agree with you about the wait between the biopsy and the results. It's absolutely mind numbing. It's always in the back of your mind. It's all consuming, torture, wondering what's going to happen and am I gonna die do I have to do drugs and chemo. All of those and a million more.

I had to wait 6 months for my second blood test and another 4 weeks until the biopsy and 2 weeks after the biopsy before I got the really bad news, that it was a malignant and agressive cancer .

I'll stop here because it only gets more scary and I don't want to scare you. You got lucky I would say use this experience to live your life to the fullest and hug your little baby extra tight. There are no Guarantees.

In the mean time get educated don't believe everything the traditional medical community says they are lying to us.

There are 2 really great sights that I really recommend that you learn as much as possible from because it's your life.

The first site is http://Chrisbeatcancer.com how to beat cancer naturally, without drugs and radiation or any of that.

The second is http://Thetruthaboutcancer.com This website is going to blow your mind when you find out what is really going on in the cancer industry. The bottom line is that it is big business and they don't want to cure cancer it's there cash cow.

I hope all turns out well for you. I look forward to staying in touch.

Sorry for the long post hope you don't mind. congratulations on your new found life.

Wes
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Dashnow Premium
I had a niece who was addicted to tanning booths. Of course, her mother kept telling her of the dangers. Low and behold at the ripe old age of 27 she was diagnosed with a melanoma mole on her stomach. Like your wife she was lucky and they were able to remove it all but she must do lifelong skin checks and use sunscreen. She is sometimes lax with the sunscreen and I do remind her how deadly melanoma can be. So glad your wife is ok and tell her never to forget the sunscreen.
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IveTriedThat Premium
It's crazy that tanning beds are still legal. The amount of damage those things can do is insane.
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jetrbby80316 Premium
Great lesson. I'm very happy you were vigilant about this and caught this early Steve. I've lost a loved one to the "Big C" so I know the stresses you have encountered.

Certainly the longest 2 months of your life, but having only to have surgery on Amanda's leg compared to chemo is the best result you could expect.

Stay strong all 3 of you, the worst is over.
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IveTriedThat Premium
Yes, we are beyond grateful that it was only Stage 1 cancer. We are extremely lucky to only have to go through a minor surgery and nothing more. It could have been a lot worse had we waited or brushed it off.
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stay focused Premium
Wow!
God Bless Amanda in her recovery. A beautiful
girl she is. Thank you and your husband for an
immediate trip to the doctor's when you arrived
home. Who would ever think this would happen
to such a young child? Unfortunately, it does!
All children and teen's right on to adults, Must
Wear a good quality SPF with an index of at least
15+ on up.. Depending on your Skin Type, girl, boy,
man or woman, Wear the Sunscreen! Then, Everyone
can have fun in the sun!!
God Bless
James
P.S. My website is about skin care for men!
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IveTriedThat Premium
Yes, we were shocked when we were reading up on it because we assumed skin cancer is something that happens to you when you get old. It really can hit any one at any time in life.
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smokeywins Premium
Sadly, I know all too well how scary Cancer can be. In 2015, we got the news that my dad had Pancreatic cancer that had metastasized, or stage 4 like you mentioned. I had a lump that had appeared during this time, but it did not meet the typical "cancer" symptoms, so I put it out of my mind, Granted not the best thing to do, but it was not something I wanted to deal with while my dad was so ill. A year later, I finally had it checked. There was much concern, scans were done and I was sent for a biopsy. I held out until the very end that it had to be benign until the results came back with the worst we could have ever imagined. Stage 3A Breast Cancer, at 37 years old. It got into my lymph nodes but luckily didn't spread beyond that. I've been through Chemo, radiation, surgery, and I'm classified as a Survivor. Cancer, of any form, is something I don't wish on anyone. It changes your outlook on life. I am now focused more on living life to the fullest, which is why I am focusing so much harder on building my online businesses so my husband and I can travel and do more of the things we have always wanted to do, but have always said, next month, next year, etc. Tomorrow is never truly a guarantee. I am so happy to read that your wife's bout was caught early enough. :-)
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IveTriedThat Premium
Hey Jennifer-

Good seeing you after to long. So very sorry to hear of your dad and your own cancer story. We are extremely thankful Amanda "only" had Stage 1. I hope you're doing better. It really does shake up life beyond what you can imagine.
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sdawson Premium
Yes, I know that a cancer diagnosis is so scary. Very glad she got it treated early and it is gone. My mom died from complications of skin cancer that had spread into her body. Getting early treatment is very necessary.

Now back to WA and your online business. Best wishes. - Shirley
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IveTriedThat Premium
We are glad this is behind us so we can start pushing forward again. Onwards and upwards.
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