The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The ABC's of Melanoma...

Did you enjoy sunning yourself as a teen? Were you like me and laid outside during the heat of the day for hours trying to achieve that golden tan? Do you remember getting sunburned and peeling? Are you fair skinned? I match the profile above to a letter, and if you do too, read on...


On Monday I took at trip to the Melanoma Clinic at my dermatologist's urging. I really didn't want to go. It was a long drive, through high traffic in Denver, I was afraid I would get lost, and I didn't want to talk about cancer. That topic makes me sad, and I didn't feel like revisiting it.




After seeing how fast cancer can take a life with my mom's year long battle, I didn't want to talk about my own risk factors, or even open the discussion with it. Fear won't make a situation go away though, and so I "bucked up" and went.



In 2005, I was diagnosed with melanoma, a fatal form of skin cancer if left untreated and unnoticed. Fortunately, since my dad had a melanoma area removed at that time, I knew what to look for. When an ordinary looking freckle, appeared black compared to my other brown freckles, I knew it was worth a trip to see the dermotologist. We caught it early, and that one little innocent freckle that turned out not to be so innocent, was removed along with a 4 inch section a half inch deep from the back of my calf. Luckily early detection meant it had not traveled, and they were able to cut it out and send me on my way.





Due to melanoma's aggressive nature though, I must see the dermotolgist every 4-5 months now for a full body check...and I mean a thorough body check, including all the places, "the sun don't shine" if you know what I mean! It's a small price to pay though if catching another spot could mean saving my life.

The oncologist told me the other day that 1 in 70 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime. Now that I have had melanoma, and my body knows how to make a cancer cell, my odds are now 1 in 25 that it will return in another area. (Those odds didn't sound so good until he said that 1 in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.) Either way, cancer is not worth taking chances with, and so I wanted to share a quick reminder of how to check yourself and any suspicious moles with a simple ABC acronym.


If you have any changing moles that match the symptoms below, take the time to have them checked out by a dermologist. Colorado has the highest incidence of melanoma in women, most likely due to the altitude, so Colorado readers, take extra caution and watch those freckles closely!


A: assymetrical... if a freckle is different on one half than the other, have it checked out.



B: borders...if the borders are irregular it's worth a visit...



C: color...just like my freckle that looked black, any color variance is cause to have it checked.



D: diameter...any freckle larger than the size of a pencil eraser is also a potential risk.






Take the time today to look at your skin...and it's never too late to wear sunscreen...melanoma is a preventable disease.




Enjoy your day, and check your skin...even where the sun don't shine! :-)

15 comments:

Beth said...

thanks for the tips.. Cancer is so scary and so fierce! Thanks!

Tricia Anne said...

This really is valuable information and especially coming from someone who has been there. Thank you for sharing.
Sincerely ~ Tricia Anne

Lorri said...

Cancer warning and a good laugh..nice way to start my day! Good job!

Anita said...

Thanks Denise, we try to be very vigilant with the sunscreen here, but checking on moles and freckles, we probably need to be better.
I hope your check up showed nothing suspicious.

Faith said...

Very important reminder, Denise. You know this hits close to home with me too. So glad you shared!

LvPoohBr2 said...

Wow. I had no idea that the risks were that great. I am very fair skinned with strawberry blonde hair and covered in freckles. I spent a good part of my childhood living in Orange county just minutes from the beach. I remember coming home with such bad sunburns that I was just one big blister.

I lost my step-mom to melanoma 4 years ago. My husband had a huge chunk removed from his back when he was 18 years old due to stage 3 melanoma. He has since had several moles removed for precautionary measures. I appreciate you taking the time to remind us to be diligent in checking ourselves and our children for signs of melanoma.

linda said...

Being a CA girl who loved the sun, I'm very aware of this also. Thank you for the reminder.

RunWithMe said...

Great reminder, especially given your personal story. I always worry about Ken b/c he is so fair and has so many odd moles. He gets them checked regularly and has only had a couple removed. I wish he would just get them all removed!!

glitzen said...

I appreciate so much these tips, and you being willing to visit the topic to help let others know what to be careful for. I am going to check my little freckles. As a life-long Alaskan, I have not been exposed to much sun, but anything is possible with our sly devil, cancer.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. A set of pictures, much like the ones you posted, saved my husband's life in 1999. He had been given a card with the pictures at work and recognized a change in one of his moles. He went to our family doctor and had immediate surgery. Thanks for informing all your readers. Susie C.

Kim said...

Thanks for the great reminder. Even though I had basal cell carcinoma several years ago I'm not as vigilant as I should be.

I am glad that you are making sure to go and get check ups regularly. :-)

Sue said...

Thank you for this post. It is a constant reminder of how we can take care of ourselves... and with summer right around the corner, we needed to be reminded!

I'm really glad they caught yours early. You are a treasure.

Hugs,
Sue

Taryn said...

Good reminder- especially in CO!

Sofia Striffler said...

I am glad you went to the clinic. What did they say. Are you clean right now.! Love You Sofia

Anonymous said...

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