Dear 16-Year-Old Me | Skin Cancer Awareness

I found this video via a link Becky Higgins posted yesterday and I think it's a super important message about melanoma.

As some of you may know, melanoma is part of my story. I've written just a little about my personal journey here and here. I've had over 40 moles removed - all but five or so came back abnormal with one being stage one melanoma (I was about six or seven months pregnant with Anna). I see a dermatologist every three to six months for full body checks and have my eyes checked by an eye surgeon annually.

I made my first appointment with a dermatologist after my Dad had a few moles removed (none of his have been melanoma but he has had two other types of skin cancer) and after the death of someone I knew - a young Mom named Julie (close friend of my friend Carrie Colbert). You can read the beginning of her story, in her own words, written in December 2006 here. I definitely credit her words for spurring me to action.

In sharing this today I hope it spurs someone else to pick up the phone if they have any moles that might seem suspicious. Read more about melanoma here.

53 thoughts

  1. Christine

    2011-05-24 20:19:53 -0400

    I shared this on my Facebook page. My sister-in-law had melanoma removed from her leg--and then had a pool installed in her backyard! It is scary stuff. I hope you are all clear from now on!

  2. Jane

    2011-05-24 20:29:43 -0400

    Ali - I also had melanomas when I was pregnant with my son, now 5. I never knew that melanomas can caue cancer in unborn babies. I now see a skin cancer doctor every 6 months. Thanks for the post - I added it to my Facebook page.

  3. Dear 16 year old me « Here I am

    2011-05-24 21:58:05 -0400

    [...] saw this on Ali Edwards blog, struck me. Such an important message in such a simple [...]

  4. GeneB

    2011-05-24 22:47:50 -0400

    Love that you are sharing something so important. I am going in next week to have 9 mole removed. I had 3 mole removed last year that turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. So doing self examination and going for check ups with your dermatologist on a regular basis is key.
    I have dark hair and I am not very pale (so not the typical candidate). I had not heard that if you had more tham 50 moles you where at risk. In my case I have that on one arm! So checking for moles takes about 30-40 min (I take pictures) as I probably have over 250 moles on my body. Thanks for posting the link for the T-shirts, will go buy some as they are not easy to find ;-)

  5. Mellie J

    2011-05-25 00:50:11 -0400

    I watched this yesterday. It made me cry! The messages shared are so important and so very real.

    Recently had a sunspot removed from my leg. Skin specialist a year ago said it was nothing. A gut feeling told me he wasn't right. Saw a different skin specialist - he froze it off straight away. If unsure, get a second opinion.

  6. Laurel

    2011-05-25 01:57:10 -0400

    Wow! What a powerful video. I sent the link to my entire address book. Thanks.

  7. Paula G

    2011-05-25 11:06:47 -0400

    Oh Ali. Thank you so much for this. I am passing it on right now (ok, right after I stop cryng.)

  8. Candace

    2011-05-25 11:16:24 -0400

    Thanks for sharing this Ali! I reposted it...great reminder / conversation starter for the summer (year round, but we know more people are outside and exposed in the summer). I'm going to make sure we have an appt with the dermatologist for a check-up too! Thanks for the friendly "kick in the pants" we needed!

  9. Kristyn

    2011-05-25 11:53:26 -0400

    Hi Ali! Thanks for sharing this awesome video!! I reposted it as well! I've had many moles removed as well and now watch my boys with even more diligence. My oldest recently had one removed (at my request). It came back "suspicious" good to be pro-active!

  10. Karissa

    2011-05-25 14:04:26 -0400

    Thanks, Ali. The photo of Julie with her three kids made me choke back tears after reading her story and pushed me to make an appointment for a screening. Thank you. :)

  11. Krista Nash

    2011-05-25 15:11:00 -0400

    Ali, thank you so much! I have posted this video to my Facebok wall. I will keep you in my prayers. On 3/25/11 I lost my beloved 47 yr old Stepmom to Melanoma. It is a vicious disease that takes good people way too early.

  12. cathi coutu

    2011-05-25 17:04:53 -0400

    I have had two basal cell carcinoma's removed in the last 6 years (I was 40 when they found the first one). One was on my back and the other was on my chest. I too go every 6 months and will for the rest of my life. I'm not sure if someone else mentioned this, but my started off as what I thought was a pimple. It didn't heal and would bleed and was painful if you scratched the surrounding skin. Sunscreen, limit exposure & try to prevent major sunburns. Oh, and of course, stay out of tanning beds!!

  13. Katie

    2011-05-25 17:42:30 -0400

    I just had my teenage daughter watch this video. It had a definite impact on her. It will be something for her to remember when her friends tease her about being so pale and untanned.

    Thank you

  14. Jules

    2011-05-25 23:48:58 -0400

    I watched this yesterday and then an hour ago one of team members wandered into my office. While chatting he was scratching his neck and then asked if I had an experience with moles as this one on his neck had become inflammed and was annoying him. He now has an appointment to see a doctor tomorrow afternoon. We live in a mining town where most of the people fly in, work eight days and then fly home for six days. Being a young, single male I wouldn't take the chance he might not go to the doctor when he gets home so made the appointment with my GP here in town. I am not 100% sure I would have been so insistent if I hadn't seen the video yesterday. Hopefully he will be fine but I thank you for the reminder to be ever vigilant for ourselves and those we care about.

  15. MJ

    2011-05-27 00:37:47 -0400

    Thank you for posting this video. I watched it, went to the link and have been contemplating my risks and reducing risks for my fair skinned light-eyed children! I've been avoiding the sun for decades with my motto being "I work hard to be this pasty white."

    Thanks as well for posting the products that you are using on yourself & your children.

  16. Marilyn T

    2011-05-27 09:07:22 -0400

    So glad you mentioned the eye exam. I didn't even KNOW you could get melanoma of the retina in the eye until my father did. Unfortunately, he was the type to "ignore" symptoms and only dealt with it (loss of vision) after the cancer had spread. It ultimately killed him.

    I will be making an appointment this MORNING for a full body check. Thanks for the reminder.

  17. MB

    2011-05-27 21:52:31 -0400

    Thanks for posting this. Melanoma took my mother's life at age 66.It is a horrible disease and much more awareness is needed.

  18. angle

    2011-05-28 16:30:08 -0400

    Ali....thanks for continually spreading the word on melanoma. We have a mutual acquaintance - Carrie ;) I am Julie's sister. I appreciate you sharing her story and I appreciate everyone reading it and taking it seriously; it is such a serious disease that CAN be detected early and treated. Keep up the awesome work.

  19. andi

    2011-06-04 10:31:58 -0400

    I've known I needed to get to a dermatologist for a while (blonde, green eyes, lots of freckles/moles), but kept putting it off. Thanks to you and this video, I have an appointment for July 7. Thanks for giving me the kick in the pants that I needed. ;)

  20. Liz

    2011-06-06 15:40:06 -0400

    I had missed this on Becky's site so thankful for the repost here & links to great information.

  21. JaymieInMN

    2011-06-09 21:59:02 -0400

    Because of this post, I had a suspicious "mole" checked. While it wasn't melanoma, it was basal cell carcinoma. I've been telling everyone I know to get themselves checked. It's quick and easy. Thanks for the motivation to get it looked at!

  22. Karen in Florida

    2011-06-20 11:55:57 -0400

    Wow, the comments made here are almost as powerful as the video. I had seen it about 3 months ago and sent it to my entire address book. I have had a number of basal cell carcinomas removed and recently a melanoma from my upper arm. It looked exactly like a dot from s Sharpie marking pen--my dematologist noticed it. I see her every 3 months and am a big proponent of skin care now and tell everyone who asks about my scar. I also wear special clothing that Columbia makes, including a wide brimmed hat. One of my best friends lost an eye to melanoma. I had not thought about having more frequent eye exams but will make an appointment for one today.

  23. Tiffany

    2011-06-28 11:35:44 -0400

    Thanks for sharing this video. I am a 3 yr. melanoma survivor because I took action after you posted your story. Your willingness to share your life with us makes a difference, in more ways than you can imagine.

  24. anna

    2012-01-16 05:13:31 -0500

    One answer to cancer
    Elaine Hollingsworth

    Black salf, draws the cancer out, and is available on the net

  25. lynn

    2012-12-07 19:15:08 -0500

    my post is a little different than most i have read. i am a nurse and my little patient is only 10 years old who doesn't go out in the sun until its goes down. patient is very fair skinned and blond. just this week was taken to a doctor on thursday and will have surgery this little patient has the melanona on the sole of the right i said my post is some what different. it is not about me but a little child who never spent any time in the sun until it goes down in summer months. why? meds this child is weak has c/p very worried as i have been with this child about 4 years in home. you get very close to a patient but a child. this child is like a grandchild as i am a older nurse. and i am feeling very heart broken now just need to find out all i little patient has such a weak immune system does anyone know how that would effect treatment. the childs mother is torn up i do not want to ask too many questions as this has happend very sudden. i too am in shock as i said this child is like a grandchild. my heart feels so sad. this child has said things over many weeks before we knew anything. my patient calls me mamaw. the patient said mamaw if my eyes close and can't wake up will you miss me. i miss you bunch. this little child has cebral palsy. very weak. not once has she said this but daily for heart feels heavy and sad. i need to vent.

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