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Melanoma Awareness Month: A Skin Check in 2019 Saved My Life.

Guest blog from Leah Alexis Adams, a melanoma survivor whose anxiety from her 2019 diagnosis taught her the importance of sharing her story to bring awareness: 

I always told myself “It’ll never happen to me.” Until it did on October 14, 2019, when I received the call that totally turned my world upside down. “You have stage IA melanoma.” I remember my heart and stomach sinking at the same time, all my unhealthy skin and sun habits flashing before my eyes and feeling completely lost. One routine skin check revealed more than I ever thought I had to face at 26 years old. I felt a heavy fear that I’ve never had before taking over my body for weeks. After four appointments, one surgery & one sentinel lymph node biopsy, I found out the melanoma was removed from my chest and the test indicated the cancer hadn’t spread to my organs. I am one of the lucky ones who received good news and the cancer was caught early through treatment. However, my life is forever changed from this diagnosis. This diagnosis was difficult to hear but even more difficult to think of all the things I could have done to prevent it. 

I can say I’m a melanoma survivor for now, but I still have & will have the anxiety about it coming back because there is a chance of skin cancer recurrence for the rest of my life. There is nothing to gain by keeping this experience to myself. We all have had or will have seasons of life like this. There will be times that feel impossible, unbearable, or unfair. But they pass & then you’re left with a battle scar that will tell a story. No matter what kind you have, any type of cancer diagnosis takes both a physical and emotional toll on one’s body.  

I share my story to raise awareness and encourage everyone who hears it to go get checked at an annual skin check. Unfortunately, after doing genetic testing and knowing that both my father and grandfather have also had skin cancer, there is a chance of skin cancer recurrence for the rest of my life. Since my diagnosis in 2019, I go to a routine skin check every three months. At every three month check, there has been at least one mole removed off my body for additional testing. These skin checks are anxiety inducing and I relive the fear and worry from October 2019 every single time. I never thought I would have to go through this journey, but skin cancer doesn’t discriminate. 

Moving forward, I use my story and my journey to make others aware of their most important organ, their skin. The moles on your body are unique. Learning about them will help to increase early detection rates of skin cancer. We’ve been given lots of guidelines and rules to live by in the moment. But checking ourselves regularly, learning about our bodies and taking steps to prevent skin cancer has never been more important. Always make sure you advocate for yourself; it can save your life. My skin check in 2019 saved mine. 


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