Lauren’s personal story
Back in college, I won a gift certificate to a local tanning salon. After only a few sessions, I was “hooked” on looking tan. I would go a few times a week. The salon told me it was safer to tan then it was to lay out in the sun. I thought it kept my skin clear and gave me that “sun-kissed” look. I also spent many summers at the beach lathering on baby oil to get tan. I never thought I was truly damaging my skin or at risk for getting skin cancer. I even said the words “it could never happen to me.”
The year 2017 marked my 10 years of being free of melanoma. It all started in the summer of 2007 after a weekend at the beach in the Hamptons. I showed my parents a "weird-looking” spot on my chest. There was a tiny freckle with a strange red squiggly line around it. I didn't know anything about skin cancer or anyone that had it at 25 years old. The biopsy came back and I was diagnosed with Melanoma. About 48 hours later, I had it removed from my chest and was stitched up.
Then, during the summer of 2012, I went for my 6-month routine checkup with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Samer Jaber and I showed him a "spot" on the half-moon crease under my eye. Dr. Jaber suggested a biopsy of it due to my prior melanoma. A week later, the results came back and I had skin cancer. I was informed they would use a procedure called Mohs Surgery to remove the cancer cells. This surgery is used for facial areas since it allows the surgeon to remove layer by layer of skin until the margins are cleared. The cancer cells went down to the muscle but luckily I had an amazing plastic surgeon who sewed me up.
It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to get involved in melanoma/skin cancer groups. There needed to be young adults who shared their stories and raised awareness. I decided to volunteer for any opportunity I could to tell my story.