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Kristin’s personal story

Kristin Runyon
Having lived in California my entire life, I grew up loving the sun! "Everyone looks prettier when they are tan," was a mantra I lived by. And I was "lucky" because I always tanned so easily and never burned. Suntan lotion with SPF 2-4 was enough sunscreen for me, I thought I was being good by putting SPF2 on! Even during the six summers I was a lifeguard, SPF4 was all I I thought.

I spent my summers swimming, floating in pools, and water skiing. Anything and everything that was outside on or near water I loved! I was always on a sports team growing up and never thought about sunscreen, even all the years I was on a competitive swim team. I didn't need it, I never burned! That was my life.  When spring break started until the first day back to school, I was outside, getting darker by the day and loving it!

When I was 14, my grandmother was diagnosed with melanoma and had a permanent softball-size hole in the back of her leg. She never spent one day laying out in her entire life, so the scare of skin cancer wasn't really there for me, unfortunately.

I always had lots of moles, but never went to a dermatologist. In November 2013, after a couple family members encouraged me to get one specific mole checked out, I was diagnosed with melanoma. By January, I had had two surgeries on my chest to successfully remove the melanoma. I now have a two-inch scar that is still healing, but in a very visible location, which is and will always be a constant reminder to always wear sunscreen! Myself and everyone I'm around!

Never be ashamed of a scar. It is a constant reminder that you are stronger than whatever tried to hurt you, or in my case...kill me! I am a melanoma survivor! Still hard to two-inch battle scar is a constant reminder that I am stronger than what tried to kill me. Even though some days it takes every ounce of self-confidence I have not to wear clothes that completely cover my scar. A lot of days still, t-shirts are my first choice...not the most attractive attire! But I am working on it, and as my scar fades, my strength and self-confidence grows.