Healthy Summer Skin: Sun Protection from Skin Cancer
"I was a tanning-bed lover."
-- Meghan Rothschild, 23, Wilbraham, Massachusetts
Age diagnosed: 20
What blows me away is that I still meet people who say, "Melanoma is just skin cancer." When I show them my scars and photos of what I looked like after my surgery, with tubes coming out of all the incisions to drain the fluid from my lymph nodes, they finally get how serious skin cancer is.
In fact, it took me a long time to "get it." I'm loath to admit that even after having a suspicious mole removed, I went straight to the tanning salon.
I snapped out of denial two weeks later when the doctor told me I had stage II melanoma. He immediately started talking about survival rates and explained that he'd have to remove some lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread. I left the office and called my mom, sobbing. I kept saying to myself, "I'm too young to have cancer." But I wasn't: I ended up having another mole removed near the first one (fortunately, it wasn't cancerous) along with eight lymph nodes. I had 70 stitches and now have four giant scars. They remind me every day of how very lucky I am to be alive and healthy.
Now I speak to high school kids about the dangers of tanning and show them slides of how "just" skin cancer disfigured my body. I hope that tanning booths will soon be as frowned upon as smoking.
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