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Danielle’s personal story

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Last summer, I was enjoying my life as a barely 28-year-old healthy mother of two—a newborn and a 2-year-old.

I noticed a small spot on the back of my arm that was the size of a freckle. It was flat and nothing that you would think would be concerning. However, it was to me. I knew my body and knew that it was not there previously. It just felt off to me.

I made an appointment with a dermatologist for the first time in my life, thinking it would be a simple visit. Little did I know that the tiny spot I almost ignored was melanoma. I was healthy, young, in shape, a new mom, and I had cancer.

As a teenager and college student, I spent a lot of time in tanning beds. At that time I didn’t think about the consequences. It wasn’t something that was really talked about. Everyone knew skin cancer could happen, but as a teen no one thinks "that will happen to me." But it did.

I had never been so terrified in my life. In those 10 days that I had to wait for the test results to find out if it had spread or not I felt lost and terrified. I cried a lot. I didn’t think I was going to be around to see my boys go to school. All for some superficial thing like tanning.

I was fortunate enough to catch it early—it hadn’t spread yet. I will never be the same. I keep such a close eye on my body, and I have to do that for the rest of my life. I now strive to make people in my life understand how extremely important it is to take precautions like using sunscreen, staying out of tanning beds, and being smart. I protect my children. I would rather be fair-skinned and alive than tanned and the alternative.