`

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.

Sign in or sign up to comment.

58 thoughts

  1. dawn says…
    05/24/2011

    Ali, thank you so much for sharing this us. We all need to be reminded about this and to take it seriously. I watched the video when I saw your mention of it yesterday and thought how amazing they all were. The stories and the words were powerful. Good for you Ali taking care of yourself and I'm sure spreading this knowledge to your kids.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Sharon Russell says…
    05/24/2011

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Although I am the fair-skinned red head who has had more than a few bad sunburns, it's my darling husband who is dealing with skin cancers. Most have come back fine-a few required more invasive surgery. Thankfully, he keeps track of his care and sees his physician regularly. Great message.
    Prayers for your continued good reports...blessings, Sharon

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Shelley Haganman says…
    05/24/2011

    I am also a survivor of melanoma and am so thankful you are spreading the news to others. I did not "fit" into the ususal categories of being fairhaired and such. It can happen to anyone. Thanks again for sharing your story and helping to educated others!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Jamie says…
    05/24/2011

    Wow. That was a powerful video. I do a good job of keeping my kids protected. But this summer, I'll take better care of my own skin. Thank you for sharing and know that this has inspired at least one person to make a change. It's on my facebook wall now, too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Cynthia says…
    05/24/2011

    Thanks for bringing awareness to the issue Ali. I lost my sister to Melanoma in 1997 and miss her dearly to this day. I too go to the dermatologist (used to be yearly and I have graduated to every other year) for checkups. Prevention is most important and it is imperative to moderate time in the sun without protective clothing (my derm told me that the spf in sun tan lotions only protects the outer layer). Thanks again for sharing your own story.....and continue to be healthy!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Cindy McDannold says…
    05/24/2011

    Yes, be aware, but also push for diagnosis. My DH had a growth at the side of his nose next to his eye that I insisted that he have checked out. Our GP said that it was nothing to worry about, but I kept insisting that it didn't look right and I wanted a Dermatologist to see it. The Dermatologist said that there was "absolutely no cause for concern" but he could remove it and send it in for diagnosis. Well guess what...basal cell carcinoma. Not the deadly melanoma, but still a procedure that required a plastic surgeon and regular check ups for the rest of his life. He was fortunate. Don't put off ANY questionable growth. PUSH for answers no matter what you are told. Sometimes we just know that something is not right. Fight for yourself and the ones you love.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. joi ferckel says…
      05/27/2011

      This is so familiar to me. My doc told me that a scab I had on my head for years was just a scaly patch! He told me he was 99% sure of it. But my hubs said he didn't like it at all and wasn't ok with 99%. So the doctor "humored" my hubs and did a biopsy. Basal cell carcinoma too. I was thankful for the carcinoma instead of melanoma. the scar on my head is my little wake up call!

  7. Ginny says…
    05/24/2011

    I shared this movie on my FB page recently. I too was diagnosed with melanoma when I was pregnant. I was 8 months along, and fortunately it was in-situ. Just had my bi-annual, six month skin check last week. Much to be thankful for!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. tracey says…
    05/24/2011

    Thank you, Ali.

    I'm calling for a body check for my husband and myself right now - it's been over a year and I won't put it off another day.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Janie says…
    05/24/2011

    Ali:
    When you blogged about your moles a couple of years ago... It prompted me to get a check up of a mole that changed shape and size (on my face). It ended up being fine... but I am glad that I did get checked and have a piece of mind now.

    Thanks for the video, a new piece of information is that if you have over 50 moles that you are at greater risk... DIDN'T know that My husband and teenager have more than 50 big dark ones, I am going to make an appointment for them today!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. borcherding says…
    05/24/2011

    Ali, so ironic that you posted this today as today marks the one year anniversary of a dear friend of mine that passed away from melanoma. Thank you so much for posting this and I hope EVERYONE sincerely takes this to heart. Peace and blessings to you and your family!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. tara pollard pakosta says…
    05/24/2011

    Ali, I have been meaning to do this for our whole family!
    thanks for the reminder!!! I have sooooooo MANY moles that need to be checked! thanks Ali!
    tara

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Raylene says…
    05/24/2011

    Great information! My Daughter has had one mole removed. She has numerous moles and we all, including her doctor, keep a careful eye on them.

    Same thing with breast lumps. She had one at age 15 and she told me (for which I am so thankful!). She saw the doctor right away and was in the Breast Center for a mammogram and ultrasound the next day. It was benign but better safe than sorry. We just lost a girlfriend of hers at age 25 from Breast cancer. She didn't have careful doctors. Such a travesty!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Pam Abbott says…
    05/24/2011

    Ali, thank you do much for repaying this video. Such a powerful message that EVERYONE needs to hear.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Cortney says…
    05/24/2011

    Hi Ali.
    Thanks much for this post. A timely reminder for us all. I was was wondering if you could share which sunblocks your family uses, and also what age a child should see a derm. (I have two outdoorsy boys, 5 & 7). I'm doing my own research on both topics, but with your experience, I'd be grateful for a response.
    thanks,
    Cortney

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      05/24/2011

      I was just thinking about when would be a good time for the kids to go too (melanoma can be genetic). I have an appointment coming up in a couple weeks and will ask my derm about that -

      I use Neutrogena Healthy Defense as my daily moisturizer (spf 30-50): http://www.neutrogena.com/category/moisturizers/healthy+defense-.do?nType=1

      For my body I use their Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunblock: http://www.neutrogena.com/product/ultra+sheer+dry-touch+sunblock+spf+55.do?sortby=ourPicks

      I use this one on Anna: http://www.neutrogena.com/category/sun/pure+-+free-+baby.do

      And planning to try this new product of theirs for wet skin this summer: http://www.neutrogena.com/category/sun/wet+skin.do?nType=1

      The kids also have sun shirts that they wear from Coolibar. http://www.coolibar.com/

  15. Liz Ness says…
    05/24/2011

    Thank you Ali (and Becky) for this. It's so powerful and it's so important.

    My fair family (all of my siblings have strawberry blond hair) still live in the mountains (except for my sister who lives here, too). Happily, all of us are friends with our skin doctors. We too, like your father, have had the non-melanoma issues. However, a cousin has had melanoma and -- because of diligence -- caught it early thank goodness. However, I worry all of the time because of the sun damage I've had -- do to a very bad sunburn before 18 (accidental, while skiing).

    To anyone reading/watching, please stay on top of this important aspect of your health. And, HUGS!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Libbi M. says…
    05/24/2011

    wow!!! awesome message. i have had 2 cancerous moles removed from my back. so very important to use sunscreen and stay out of those tanning beds!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Yvette Christopher says…
    05/24/2011

    Ali - thanks for this. I am making my appt right now. I had melanoma in situ also removed last year. I just hate the full body scan (hate my body) so I was delaying scheduling this last check up that was to be this month. This is what I needed - especially reading Julie's story.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. pidge says…
    05/24/2011

    I think I have cried more this weekend/early week than ever before. I should have know before I pushed the play button ... but it's super important. I think about your Y/T page you shared all the time ... I don't have moles, but I know those who do and who have skin cancer ... and it's scary. Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Jennifer says…
    05/24/2011

    Thank you for posting this, Ali. I read Julie's story on the link, and it was very sobering. I never would have thought that skin cancer could spread to your internal organs, but then again, technically, skin is an "organ" so it does make some sense. My BF and I both have a lot of moles, and we do keep an eye on them, especially with the huge amount of sun we get here in AZ. I haven't been "tan" for many years now; I might look funny being so pale, but I know my skin (and my health) will thank me for it later!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Carrie says…
    05/24/2011

    Sigh - big hug, A. Thank you for continuing to honor Julie's legacy by sharing her story.

    That video is great! I had not seen it before. I will definitely be sharing...

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. france says…
    05/24/2011

    thanks for the link Ali. This is so very important...even if you have darker skin like me.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Dear 16-year old me | Qatato says…
    05/24/2011

    [...] Dear 16-Year-Old Me | Skin Cancer Awareness (aliedwards.com) [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Sabrina says…
    05/24/2011

    I had two later in life pregnancies (at ages 37 and 39), and it was after that I noticed a mole on my upper leg that kept bleeding a little. I wasn't even sure it was a mole because it was flat. It wasn't very large, and it didn't have funny colors, but I went to the dermatologist anyway. It was basal cell. He took one look at it and did a biopsy that day. I later had to go back for a follow up to make sure all the cancer cells were removed. It was a HUGE wake up call for me! I also had a former boss who had skin cancer on her back who went through a similar situation as Julie.

    If you become pregnant, especially in your 30s or later, please make sure you have your skin checked by a dermatologist -- especially if you are fair skinned and have moles. I was told that the hormones in pregnancy can really set off a cancer cell that might not have done anything before. I was planning on having any other children, but I was told it wasn't a good idea, either! I'm now 7 years out from that, and have not had any other occurrences. I now seek out the shade, not the sun!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      05/24/2011

      I was told the same thing Sabrina by the dermatological oncologist - he said if I was cancer free for 5 years or so then maybe - but that the hormones can really impact the cell growth (and that's not a good thing for someone like me with a strong history of abnormal moles).

  24. Cheryl says…
    05/24/2011

    Oh Ali. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. quinna says…
    05/24/2011

    Yesterday I had life saving surgery for Breast cancer. Thanks to mamograms!

    Reply 0 Replies

Sign in or sign up to comment.