Emily’s personal story
As a teenager, and as far back as I can remember, I enjoyed being in the sun. We would regularly take family trips to the beach, I would regularly lay in the sun with my friends, etc. I generally used sunscreen but usually wasn’t too concerned with reapplying as I should.
When I was 17 years old, I got a job at a local tanning salon. I worked there from 17-19 and tanned at least three days a week, sometimes more, for an average of 20 minutes per session. During that time of working there/using the tanning bed regularly, I continued my sunbathing practices. The tanning bed usage decreased when I went to college, but I did still visit—maybe a handful of times per month, but nothing near what I had done previously.
I have always had a lot of freckles and moles and never paid a whole lot of attention to them, but I did happen to notice a mole on my upper left thigh at the age of 24 or 25. It was small and dark, and it looked fairly normal, but over time I noticed it started to change. The borders began to become more jagged, the middle became a little bit raised, and it grew (in diameter). I continued to watch it for about a year, until finally I showed my mom and asked her what she thought. She immediately agreed that it did not look normal and urged me to get it looked at.
I scheduled a dermatologist appointment with Dr. Robert Brodell to look at the spot. He did not seem too concerned, but he decided to remove it to be safe and sent it to the lab for analysis. He admitted he was pretty surprised when it in fact came back as melanoma. At that time, he referred me to Dr. William Black for a biopsy. They removed a fairly large portion of tissue out of my thigh around the mole area to test the surrounding tissue. It came back negative and had not spread, thank God. No major treatment was required, and I had to have checkups (full body checks) every six months for three years and every year after that for the rest of my life.
Since then, at my first checkup, they found another concerning spot, and removed it. Thankfully, it came back as benign.