Brendle's personal story
I was 29 years old when I was diagnosed with skin cancer. I will never forget the call I received at work that day. Growing up, I hated my fair skin and freckles! So, when I got to high school, I used the tanning bed occasionally and thought it was cool to lay out in the sun for hours at the beach while my friends got tan and I got burnt! If I even missed covering up just one spot on my body with sunscreen, I would and still do turn bright red like a lobster! My mom always taught me that tanning beds were dangerous and that I needed to lather up with sunscreen when I am out in the sun. But for some reason, I did not listen so well.
I did, however, routinely check my body for spots as I got older and would get checked out by my local dermatologist every year. I had about six atypical/pre-cancerous moles removed and basal cell carcinoma before I found my melanoma. It was on the back of my leg. I only noticed it because it was a little darker on one side and sometimes bled when I shaved over it. I went into the doctor soon after and told her everything about it. She decided to remove it but she thought everything was going to be just fine. Two days later, I get a call from her (not the nurse), that I had melanoma. Luckily for me, it was caught early and had not spread at all! I had surgery in the office to remove everything and dozens of stitches!
Since that day, I now see a melanoma specialist at Duke University and have had several abnormal biopsies but the melanoma has not returned! I am also having mole mapping done soon so I can keep up with changes and not have so many scars on my body! I also am a spray-tan advocate now and love tanning the healthy way!
Although I regret my sun exposure and tanning bed use as a teen, I don't dwell on the past, because I know I can't change it. Skin cancer is preventable and curable if caught early! I'm so glad I did!