At age 27, I was diagnosed with melanoma. At a regular skin check, I had a couple of areas biopsied on my skin, all of which came back benign. As I was leaving the appointment, I had a gut feeling about another small mark on my arm that had been bothering me. The doctor said it looked fine and didn’t think it needed to be tested. However, my gut told me something was off, and I wanted to triple-check. This ‘gut feeling’ saved my life and for that, I am forever grateful.
Cancer is a big and scary word. It takes up the entire room. This word was very familiar to me, as a few of my close family members had also been diagnosed with melanoma. I grew up with a strong awareness around skin cancer and the dangers of the sun. Much of my childhood was at the beach lifeguarding or spending time outdoors with friends and family in San Diego. I was very careful about protecting my skin with sunscreen and took preventative measures not to over-extend time outside.
In my case, I was extremely fortunate that the melanoma was detected early, and I did not have to go through chemotherapy or radiation. After finding the right team of doctors, my cancer was removed surgically, and I was only left with a scar on my arm. This scar is my forever reminder to stay sun safe and be grateful for each and every day J
Melanoma can occur at any age.
Get regular skin checks. Save yourself, your friends, and your loved ones. Save the strangers down the street too!
Through @OnePelotonCouple and our partnership with Coolibar and the Melanoma Research Foundation, my partner Alessandro and I hope to inspire others to stay active and have fun, while staying sun safe and spreading the word! When we partnered with the San Francisco Marathon and Miles for Melanoma in 2020, we were shocked at the number of people that reached out to share their stories around melanoma. Whether it was the community of survivors, current warriors, friends of friends, colleagues, family members, etc., almost everyone had a story to tell. Even though melanoma is less fatal on average than other forms of cancer, it truly is one of the most preventable.
No two cancer stories are the same. Each cancer story is unique, and I am not here to generalize or speak on behalf of all cancer survivors and warriors currently fighting this battle. My intention in sharing my story is to spread awareness for the disease and the importance of listening to your body and taking care of your health. In doing so, I hope to inspire others to share their stories and start the dialogue around melanoma.
Moral of the story is cancer is scary. Cancer is powerful and SO are you! You will surprise yourself. Our biggest fear in life is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are truly powerful beyond measure.
Prevention starts with you. Let’s do this!
Update: A week after writing this blog, I had a skin check and two more areas biopsied on my face. Unfortunately, both came back as skin cancer and I will be having two Mohs Surgeries this month to remove them. I feel blessed to have detected these early and to now join the family of survivors who have fought skin cancer more than once! Hat trick, anyone?!
I am also grateful for my intuition which again in this scenario helped save my life.