Heather T's story

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I remember looking in the mirror while doing my hair and seeing this dark mole on the left side of my forehead near my hairline. It seemed to have appeared overnight, which I knew it couldn't have. I asked my husband if he had ever noticed it and he said no. I even looked through old photographs to see if it was there.

Seven days after my primary care physician removed the mole, I got the call. It was 7:15 p.m., so I knew it couldn't be good news. My doctor then told me I had melanoma. I was only 27 years old. I was a registered nurse going to school for my bachelor's degree at the time. Even with my medical background, I thought only older people got skin cancer from many years of sun exposure, not a 27-year-old.

I learned a lot about melanoma after my diagnosis. Not realizing I had all the risk factors: A fair complexion, blue eyes, multiple moles and freckles, sunburns in the past, growing up in Florida and had an aunt who also had a diagnosis of melanoma. Fortunately, it was diagnosed early at stage 1. I had surgery and saw my dermatologist every three months after that.

It has been 12 years since my diagnosis and I remain cancer-free. I have two boys ages 10 and 7 and although they hate me now for making them wear sunscreen, I hope they will appreciate it when they get older.

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