Carrie's story

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I grew up in Las Vegas and was a swimmer before I could walk. I spent most days in the outdoor pool and never used sunscreen because I never got a sunburn. I didn't think I needed to. I always have had a lot of moles, but I never thought about getting skin cancer because I thought it happened to people who frequently got sunburns. Then a friend’s comment on a picture changed my life.

I noticed a mole on my forehead that I have had as long as I can remember started to get darker, but it wasn't growing that big and looked "normal." I finally made the choice to go get it checked out when a friend saw a picture of me and asked if I had always had that mole on my forehead. Then, looking at the picture closer it had looked like someone took a black marker and drew it on my face. So the next day I called the doctor and made an appointment. "I always have had a lot of moles, but I never thought about getting skin cancer because I thought it happened to people who frequently got sunburns."

It took three doctor visits before I finally got referred to see a dermatologist. When I saw the dermatologist, he said right away that we should remove it and have it biopsied. Three weeks later I got the call saying that I had stage II melanoma and I was going to need a sentinel lymph node biopsy. I am a military spouse stationed overseas, so we were flown back to the United States to have the surgery. I had lymph nodes removed from my cheek and neck, which left me with a nice scar and some numbness along my jawline.

The results came back negative and all the margins were clear, which is fantastic news. It has been a little more than a year and I have had five more moles removed. Four have come back negative and I am waiting on one more result. Not a day goes by that I don't think about melanoma because you can say it is "written" on my face.

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