Paula's Story | In Her Own Words

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Paula's Story

In Her Own Words

During high school I attended several proms and before each one I spent a couple sessions in a tanning bed getting some color, just like everyone else was doing. Throughout college I also used a tanning bed during the spring to get a jump start on my tan. I also had a lot of natural sun exposure from outdoor activities such as sports & lifeguarding.

On one of my trips to the dermatologist they removed a mole from my leg and it came back as melanoma, stage 1. They treated it by removing a larger section of "good" skin around it to ensure the entire melanoma was gone. Five years later I had a skin-colored bump appear on my ear. It had no pigment to it and was not painful. It was removed and diagnosed as melanoma, stage 3.

After further testing it was discovered that the melanoma had spread to a lymph node.

I had surgery for the removal of a large section of my ear, the reconstruction of that ear, and the removal of a total of 46 lymph nodes from my neck.

Thankfully, all of the additional lymph nodes that were removed came back negative, but because of that one single positive lymph node I had to meet with an oncologist and begin 12 rounds of chemotherapy.

The treatments caused me to suffer severe fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pains, and injections site reactions.

During the course of my treatments I had yet another diagnosis of melanoma, stage 1. It was treated similar to the first one with the larger section of "good" skin being removed. That one made it a total of 3 Melanomas by the age of 32!

Thinking back to when I did tan, cancer was the last thing to cross my mind. Melanoma is the only cancer that is never considered in remission and this is something that I will fight for the rest of my life. It's a very serious cancer and can be prevented. Be sun safe and stay out of tanning beds!!