Kristina's Story | In Her Own Words

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In Her Own Words

I was 22 years old when I first found out I had Melanoma.

I had just graduated from college and I was excited to move to the south for grad school. Before moving I wanted to make sure to get all of my doctors’ appointments taken care of, and I decided it might be a good idea to see a dermatologist for the first time. 

At my first visit, the dermatologist took off one mole from my leg, and a week later while I was on vacation I got the call telling me it was Melanoma and that I needed to come in to discuss treatment and follow up. 

I remember being confused and scared and googled about everything I could about Melanoma.

Once I got back from vacation I met with my dermatologist who explained my situation and let me know I was one of her youngest Melanoma patients.  

Thankfully we caught it at a very early stage and the only treatment I needed was surgery to remove the skin cancer.  At my follow up appointment just a few weeks later I decided to ask my dermatologist to take off another mole that was also on my leg that seemed to be growing over the past few months. She was hesitant to remove the mole because it didn’t have many characteristics of Melanoma, but since I was persistent she agreed to do the biopsy. Sure enough, just a few days later I received a call from a nurse letting me know that this mole also came back as Melanoma and that I needed to schedule surgery right away.

So a month and a half and two surgeries later, I was finally ready to move down to Alabama. What I thought was going to be an exciting summer with my friends and family before the big move, turned into a summer filled with worry and healing from the surgeries. 

As lucky as I was, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for my decision to tan throughout high school and college. I always loved being tan, so whenever events like spring break or school dances came around, I never hesitated to tan as much as I could so I could have what I thought was the perfect color. 

My parents repeatedly told me how dangerous tanning was, but I was young… there was no way skin cancer would affect me. 

Little did I know that my decision to tan would not only lead to significant consequences for me but also cause so much stress and worry for my family and those closest to me. 

My advice:
Tanning is never safe even if only doing for a short time for an event such as prom. If you want the perfect tan there are so many alternatives, such as spray tans, that will give you the same results. To be tan for one night is not worth the lifetime of fear that results after dealing with skin cancer. 

I hope that my story will encourage you to live a healthy life style. Take the pledge to avoid tanning for prom, but don’t stop there. Make this a lifelong commitment to make your skin a priority. I promise you will thank yourself later.