Samantha's Story

Throughout Melanoma Awareness Month, the MRF is sharing the stories of patients who have caught their melanoma through skin checks and eye exams. This is why it's important for everyone to #GetNaked and #EyeGetDilated, it may save your life. Head back to the MRF's main page to read other patient stories in the coming weeks.

         

Early detection saved not only my life, but my son’s life too

In July of 2009, the biggest part of my life was the excitement my husband and I felt about expecting our son. At 3 months pregnant, I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to welcome our baby boy into the world. It was around this time that I noticed a dot on my inner thigh that hadn’t been there before. At that point, I previously had close to 30 potentially cancerous moles removed and it wasn’t a strange color or asymmetrical, so I wasn’t too worried. Just to be safe, I showed it to my dermatologist at my annual visit to get some peace of mind.

I am so thankful that I followed my gut, because that mole turned out to be melanoma. I was terrified – not only for my own health, but for the health of my son. Luckily, I caught my melanoma early enough to get the cancerous mole removed, along with five more potentially cancerous ones, and my son and I were both healthy.

"Because of organizations like the MRF, melanoma research is thriving."

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Early detection saved my life, and it saved my son’s life. My cancerous mole was far from intimidating – a small dot that didn’t have any irregularities. But because I knew it was new, my instincts were to get it checked out and flag it for my dermatologist, whom I now see every six months. At each visit, my dermatologist reviews pictures of my full body to keep track of existing moles and look for new ones. In total, I have had 87 procedures to remove potentially cancerous spots from my body, including basal cell and dysplastic moles. 

Since my diagnosis, I have made it my mission to engage with and educate everyone that this disease does not discriminate. Regardless of age, gender, skin type or ethnic background, it really can happen to anyone. Working with the Melanoma Research Foundation has given me the opportunity to do just that. Through my involvement in Chicago with the Wings of Hope for Melanoma gala and Miles for Melanoma walks, I feel as though I’ve been able to share my personal message that melanoma is not “just skin cancer.”

I support the Melanoma Research Foundation because of their mission to educate patients and physicians about prevention and diagnosis of melanoma, and to advocate for the melanoma community to raise awareness of this disease. Because of organizations like the MRF, melanoma research is thriving, patients have resources they need to get through treatment and more people are aware of the importance of skin checks. But our work is not done until we have found a cure for this deadly disease.

Today, my family has three cardinal skin safety rules: always be diligent in tracking and monitoring your moles, set up a sunscreen station in your bathroom to reapply sunscreen throughout the day and see a dermatologist every year, even if you are not at high risk. Our bodies are constantly changing, and it is up to us to take care of the skin we’re in. If sharing my story encourages just one person to #GetNaked and check their skin, then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.