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Dear 16-year-old Me


This video is especially poinant to me. I feel like I could have written it myself. You see, in my younger years, I was not so kind to my skin. I loved the tanning bed a little too much, I neglected my suncreen for tanning oils - to say the very least, I should have listened to my mother. Thankfully what I did listen to my mother about was diligent dermatology appointments. When I was 20, I had my first mole removed. When I turned 28, I had another removed on my leg and it came back as severely atypic which basically means one step below melanoma. My dermatologist, concerned that she had not gotten all of the margins at the first removal, went back in and took more. Between now and then like clockwork, I've had things removed from my body and all confirmed OK.  Then just less than two weeks ago, she took another; this time it was dubbed as moderately atypic (and they got all of the margins). I guess all of this is to say, I'm lucky. Though I was not particularly kind to my skin in my younger years in pursuit of the perfect glow, I am lucky to have a very good dermatologist and am diligent enough in my health care (I have to go every 6 months now rather then the recommended yearly appointment due to my history) that I can (hopefully) catch these issues early before they turn into something bigger.  Because melanoma, like all cancer, is a scary thing.  It's doesn't discriminate, it takes no prisoners, it is aggressive, and it will like affect more than one person you know in your lifetime.

Consider this your PSA, go to your dermatologist regularly. Even if you think it can't happen to you- I don't have a familial link to melanoma so you wouldn't even necessarily consider me 'at risk', but clearly I am. Wear your suncreen, hats, sunglasses (apparently my skin/eye color combo makes me more likley to develop these issues as well), reapply your screen, and do self-checks between appointments. Crazily enough, something that seems so simple, might just save your life.

For more information on melanoma and the DCMF go here.

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