Skin Cancer Awareness Month | My Weird Freckle Was Melanoma

DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal journey with melanoma. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about your health.

“Can you take a look at this weird freckle?” I asked my doctor during my yearly physical.
“I don’t do moles,” he said. “I’ll refer you to a dermatologist.” That could have been the end of it. And the end of me.

As a working mom of three busy kids, it was difficult to make time for my physical, let alone remembering to call yet another doctor and take off work for yet another appointment. But for some reason, I felt like this was important. 

A few weeks later, I found myself wrapped in a gown, seated on crinkly hygiene paper on an exam table while the dermatologist peered into his dermoscope, focused on my weird freckle.

I was 42 years old. Skin cancer is for old people, I thought. There’s nothing to be concerned about. But my doctor thought differently. “I don’t want to scare you,” he said. “But that’s got to come off.” My weird freckle was melanoma. 

Freak Out

It took about two minutes and one Google search to send me into panic. Melanoma is some serious shit. My head filled with thoughts of my motherless children and grief-stricken husband navigating life without me. I couldn’t get this weird freckle off my body fast enough and the wait for my upcoming appointment was excruciating. I wanted to take a knife and cut if off myself, just to get this poison off me.

One of the Lucky Ones

It took two procedures to get a clear margin but I was lucky. My melanoma was caught early, before it had a chance to get into my lymph nodes and spread through my system. I had a friend who wasn’t so lucky, and, as about 7,990 people each year do according to, he died from his weird freckle.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

I’m sharing my experience because May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and it’s a good time to remind people–even young people–to make an appointment for a screening and learn how to prevent this most common type of cancer in America. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, each day in the U.S., 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer. That includes basal cell, squamous cell, deadly melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma. Each of these cancers presents differently and have different treatments but they are all caused by the same thing: exposure to UV rays. Exposure can come directly from time outdoors, or from sun coming through a vehicle window or a sunny spot in your home. Tanning beds have a high UV exposure, and all UV rays can contribute to cancer.

Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer

You can still enjoy time outdoors while protecting yourself from harmful UV rays. Here are some actions to take.

Take preventative actions.

  • Always wear sunblock, even during the winter.
  • Reapply sunblock every few hours, or if you’ve been swimming or sweating.
  • Limit exposure to the sun during the most intense hours of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., even if you are wearing sunblock.
  • Don’t use tanning beds. If you want some color, try a spray tan or self-tanner instead.
  • Invest in some sun-blocking clothing. Despite the long sleeves, it actually helps keep you cool. I like Coolibar, or REI’s selection.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat.
  • Check out the ratings of your sunblock
  • Consider a BB or CC cream with SPF for daily use. 

Screen yourself regularly.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month is a good time to screen yourself and family members. The American Academy of Dermatologists has an easy-to-follow guide for checking yourself. Taking an inventory of your freckles and moles will help you spot new ones and be aware of changes.

For more on prevention, this resource from the American Academy of Dermatologists is super helpful. 

As for me, I have had multiple suspicious moles cut away from my body over the years but my melanoma is officially in remission. I credit my doctor with saving my life and follow up with him annually for a skin check. Every day I admire my beautiful scars. I don’t mind them at all. 

Moms take great care of their kids and partners but aren’t always so good at taking care of themselves. Read about Kristy’s experience with heart disease and why it’s so important to pay attention to your body.


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