It is astounding to think that one person dies every hour in this country from melanoma which is the most serious type of skin cancer. We met a Harrisburg woman who has changed the way she sees the sun after surviving melanoma.
Before Lexi Frederiksen ever takes a step outside her Harrisburg home she covers her exposed skin with sunscreen year round. That wasn't always the case for the 28 year old, who admits, growing up on a farm and being outside a lot she rarely wore sunscreen. She learned the hard way she should have. Six years ago, a mole she had removed on her chest, came back positive for melanoma skin cancer.
Lexi says, " I was born fair skinned with moles all over, but this one, for some reason, got very black, it raised above the skin and it was concerning compared to others. When I heard I had cancer it scared me to death. I was only 23 and the time and it was really frightening. I just didn't know how this was going to affect the rest of my life?"
Dermatologist Dr. Michelle Wanna says, "The sooner we catch it and the thinner the melanoma the better the prognosis so just make sure you are getting in and getting them checked."
Dr. Wanna with the Avera Dermatology and Laser Center says it's important to check yourself from head to toe each month, keeping in mind the ABCD's of melanoma:
A is for Asymmetry. If you could take the mole and fold it in half and it doesn't match you should have it checked.
B is for Border. If the edges are not a nice circle, wavy edges check them.
C is for Color. If there is a change in color from blue, to black, brown, or red you should have it checked
D is for Diameter or size. If a mole is 6" in diameter or the size of a pencil eraser then it is probably something that should be monitored.
Dr. Wanna says, "This doesn't mean you have melanoma, it just means they should be checked."
She also suggests during the winter months wearing a base lotion on your face, neck and back of your hands that has at least an SPF of 30. In the summer time you need to wear sunscreen with a 30 SPF and reapply every two hours.
Lexi ended up having surgery to remove skin and tissue around the mole that left a scar 5 1/2 inches long down the middle of her chest. She also had lymph nodes removed under both arm pits. She is one of the lucky ones because the cancer hadn't spread to her lymph nodes. Once it does, it can spread all over the body and then the treatment and prognosis isn't good. So even though she will be scared for life, she is so thankful the cancer was caught early and that she still has a long and happy life to live.