Monday, December 17, 2012

Do You Have the Power?

As I child of the 80’s and early 90’s, I cannot hear the word POWER and not think of the Snap song-

Loved it!  It gets stuck in your head so easily.  A few years ago, he was the coach for my nephew’s football team. Every time I went to a game and saw Coach “Turbo”, I’d start singing, “It’s getting, it’s getting, it’s getting kind of hectic.”

That is the FIRST thing I think about when I hear the word "power." (I am a sucker for music)

The second thing I think about is this:

During my first year of teaching, I taught 6th grade math and science. The local radio station would give Black History facts in the morning and follow with the reminder that Knowledge Is Power. Being a very excited brand new teacher, I totally believed that and made a sign with the saying and posted in my classroom.

I still believe it today, but when I think about it, I don’t think about all the education in the school books as much as I think about the knowledge we need to survive. The knowledge we need to protect ourselves from cancer and other diseases.

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on the island of Key West, FL. The sun  could be found everywhere. All. The. Time.  So, naturally, I was taught ALL about skin cancer and how to avoid it, right? WRONG.  Want to know my knowledge about skin cancer?
Here it is:

  • Skin cancer comes from too much sun when you are at the beach.
  • If I wear sunscreen, I will be ok.
  • Dark, big moles are scary and can be dangerous.

There you go. That was my entire knowledge of skin cancer - Skin cancer = ugly moles.   I had a large, dark brown mole on my back since I was a teen. When I got into my 20’s, I started going to have yearly skin exams because of THAT mole. I thought it was the one that would be my doom- if that were my fate.  But, every dermatologist said it looked fine. I had that mole on my back until 3 months ago, when I made my new dermatologist remove it. It was benign.

The pink bubble pimple-looking mole that I had on my neck? That couldn’t be cancer. It was too cute. Too pretty.  It itched, and  I had it removed. Then it came back. Had I known that EVOVLING or ITCHING were two HUGE signs, I would have taken it more serious. I wouldn’t have procrastinated. I wouldn’t have rescheduled the appointment 3 different times! That’s right 3 times! All with at least a month and a half in between. They would have caught my melanoma long before it got to go deeper into my skin.  I would have known it really WAS something serious, but I lacked the knowledge.

You see when I went to the dermatologist it usually had to do with acne. I saw a dermatologist for acne from the age of 12 to 22.  There were no signs showing me what to look for when detecting skin cancer, but there were plenty of signs telling me how great I would look with Botox injections,  Acutane,  hair restoration procedures, facials, and peels.  How was I to know?

As I searched the web for this picture to show you a quick summary of the ABC’s of skin cancer, I could not get over how many stop at D.  The don’t even INCLUDE evolving.  No wonder I was clueless.

This is what everyone SHOULD at least be exposed to at any doctor's office, but especially the dermatologist.

And then there are the OTHER signs:

Other Danger Signs of Malignant Melanoma
• Change in color, especially multiple shades of dark brown or black; red, white and blue, 
• Change or spreading of color from the edge of the mole into surrounding skin.• Change in size, especially sudden or continuous enlargement.• Change in shape, especially development of irregular margins or border.• Change in elevation, especially sudden elevation of a previously flat mole.• Change in the surface texture of a mole, especially scaliness, erosion, oozing, crusting, ulceration, or bleeding.• Change in the the surrounding skin, especially redness, swelling, or new moles.• Change in sensation, especially itching, tenderness, or pain.
Basically, any mole or growth that is CHANGING needs to be checked by a doctor.

This site wasn't afraid to tell it like it is. They felt it was important to give ALL the information. Kudos to

I am so glad to be here for those who are newly diagnosed with melanoma, but I also hope to be reaching everyone who hasn’t been diagnosed.  

You see, 

  • Melanoma is now the fastest growing cancer in the US.

  • The chance of getting melanoma  was 1 in 1500 in 1940, then 1 in 67 in 2004, and now it's 1 in 50

I rather YOU find it BEFORE anyone else does. I rather YOU find it before it’s too deep or too late. If caught in the earliest stages, melanoma is entirely treatable with a survival rate of nearly 100%. If untreated and allowed to spread, there is NO known treatment or cure! You can find those facts on MANY skin cancer sites. Here is the site I used. 

Early detection is key, and to have early detection you must KNOW what to look for. Not  all melanomas are dark and flat and scary looking. 

Share this with your family and friends. Spread the knowledge everyone. Please give others the power to see what I did not.  

As always, thank you for reading and until next practice safe sun!

OH..and make sure to use your power for good...not evil. 


  1. Hello LSM

    My name is Kat and my husband (34) was diagnosed with Nodular Melanoma in September 2012. He had a round mole on his elbow that started changing by going dark, larger and it looked like it's getting bubbly. As we live in the UK I was surprised when everybodys initial reaction was 'too much sun' and 'sunbeds!'. The UK is not exactly that sunny country isn't it? I have done some reading and there are studies that show that Nodular Melanoma has little or no relationship with sun exposure.

    It is little consolation for people like you and my hubby but still I find that it takes the edge off it. If everybody who has ever used sunbeds or had one sunburn a year would get melanoma the whole world would suffer from it.

    I started following your blog just now and I hope that you as well can kick cancer's ass and come out of the battle stronger! I read this phrase somewhere: 'a scar is proof that you took up a fight against something' And this is because you're a Tough Survivor and Hero too!

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting, and for your encouragement!

    Yes, I am aware that some melanoma is not caused by the sun at all. This can definitely be proven by those whose primary sites are in places where the sun doesn’t shine and the unfortunate young children with this disease.

    When I look at the risk factors and compare them to myself, I had a few- light skin, a few freckles, and I grew up where there is a LOT of sun. I tried to get tans MANY times in my life, and even used a tanning bed on and off for about 6 months. Mine may not have come from the sun, but I can’t help but think that the sun increased my likelihood.

    I am hoping at this point to make people aware of what they can do to protect themselves AND what they need to look for, so if, God forbid, they do get melanoma, it is caught very early. Melanoma was something I knew VERY little about, and I personally feel, being a fair skinned girl in sunny Key West, I should have been told about the importance of protecting my skin.

    It has only been 6 months for me, but there are not many days that pass by that I am not mad at myself for not knowing that CHANGE is bad.

    I hope your husband is doing well! I hope you enjoy the blog! Thank you!

    1. Results came back today and he is NED!!! Joy to the world!

      Keep up your blog in 2013 - the world needs to know more about melanoma and it's dangers!


    2. Wonderful to hear!!!! So happy for him and your entire family! Merry Christmas!