Few would argue it was a long winter and it's been a wet cold spring so when it finally starts feeling like summer most of us want to take off layers and head outside. One Sioux Falls woman will tell you to be very careful when you do that. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on her battle with the sun and what it did to her skin and her health.
Kristin Aeilts used to love the sun. She loved being tan, but after being diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer last summer she doesn't mind being white anymore because she loves being alive. She had a mole on her right that grew uglier and uglier. When she finally had it checked last July a biopsy confirmed it was melanoma.
Avera Dermatologist Dr. Jana Johnson says, "Of the three types of skin cancer melanoma absolutely the one we worry about the most. It has the most potential to spread beyond the skin to other sites such as lymph nodes, lungs and brains."
Kristin's cancer hadn't spread so she got away with only having surgery to remove more tissue around the site.
Kristin says, " I knew it needed to be removed and I put off getting it removed because I didn't want the ugly scar and now I have a large scar instead of just a small scar. I know I'm lucky that it didn't spread. I also know that if I would have gotten it checked earlier, it probably wouldn't have progressed in the first place to the melanoma stage."
Dr. Johnson says melanoma is primarily caused by too much sun exposure over the course of our lifetime.
Dr. Johnson says, "In this part of the country when we only have a few months of nice weather I never tell people they can't go outside and enjoy themselves but you have to be smart about it. Avoid the peak hours between 10 and 2 and sunscreen is crucially important."
The sunscreen should have an SPF of 30 and have a wide spectrum of coverage including UVB and UVA. Dr. Johnson says where we fail is re-applying that sunscreen. If you are active it needs to be re-applied every two hours.
Kristin says, "After it happened I was afraid of the sun, afraid of being in the sun, but I made sure I was using sunscreen covering myself as well as my family. I am much more vigilant on protecting my family and myself from the sun and I will never step foot in a tanning bed."
She is also diligent about her check ups with Dr. Johnson every 3 months (which she will do for the first 2 years and then regular yearly check ups for the rest of her life) and she will never need a reminder of how dangerous the sun can be if you aren't careful. A mistake she won't ever make again.
Avera Dermatologists say we need to pay attention to our moles, especially the ones that change shape or color and if they do get them checked by your doctor as soon as possible.
Avera is hosting a Free Skin Cancer Screening Event in honor of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month it's called:
Monday, May 7, 2012
4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Lewis Drug Store
41 Street & Minnesota Avenue
Appointments are required and can be made by calling the Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center Call Center. 1-877-AT-AVERA (1-877-282-8372)