It’s time to start spreading awareness about this frightening cancer.
It was National Melanoma Day on 4 August and while it’s important to have specific days to draw attention to health concerns, at FAIRLADY we think it’s essential that South Africans are sun aware every day. Towards the end of last year we showcased a poignant video entitled, ‘Dear 16-year-old me’, which highlighted the seriousness of melanoma.
I’m passionate about spreading melanoma awareness because I had my own brush with it. In January 2011, I discovered a strange looking mole on my right arm and reluctantly had it examined at a dermatologist. It turned out that my gut-feeling was spot on and I had to have it removed. My test results returned from the laboratory and I was informed that I had a melanoma. I was in shock.
After having a large chunk of skin cut from where the small melanoma was removed (5mm deep and 5mm around) by a plastic surgeon, my skin was sent for further tests to see if it had spread. The tests came back clean. I couldn’t have been more relieved! Each time I look at my scar, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have caught the melanoma in time.
This year, I have had to go to my dermatologist for quarterly checkups to be safe. In 2013, my check-ups will be reduced to twice a year and, if my moles behave themselves, I will then only have to visit the dermatologist once a year.
My advice to you?
- Visit your dermatologist and ask him or her to map out your moles.
- Stay out of the sun.
- When you are exposed to the sun, wear protection.
- STAY AWAY FROM TANNING BEDS – it may seem obvious, but I can’t stress how important this is.
What is a melanoma?
No matter what gender, race or age you are, you can get a melanoma. They are most commonly seen in ‘mole form’, particularly ones that change size, colour, become itchy or ooze. It’s a form of cancer that moves at a rapid pace and eventually spreads to all the body’s organs as it progresses.
Some tips to avoid melanomas:
- Wear protective clothing
- Avoid harsh midday sun
- Invest in a trusted sunscreen with an SPF
- Go for check-ups at your dermatologist