MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Melanoma Monday is a day to raise awareness for the most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers found in young adults, especially young women.
Leah Adams said her life forever changed after being diagnosed with melanoma two and a half years ago. She was 26.
"I was embarrassed because I felt like I gave myself cancer because I thought about all the times I should have worn sunscreen, I shouldn't have gone in a tanning bed," she said.
As her dad was battling melanoma, her family urged her to get a suspicious mole checked. "It was starting to become black in the middle, uneven borders, edges. And there was a red ring," Leah said.
"Tanning beds are high risk behavior for melanoma and skin cancers. So even one trip to a tanning bed increases your risk of melanoma," said Dr. Melissa Piliang, a Cleveland Clinic dermatologist.
The American Academy of Dermatology urges everyone to do regular skin checks. Follow the ABCDE rule: asymmetry, irregular border, varying color, diameter, melanomas are usually more than six millimeters, and evolving.
"They may have symptoms suddenly, like they itch or hurt," said Dr. Piliang.
Leah had surgery to remove her melanoma and some lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread. Luckily, it was caught early.
"I realized that I can just keep living a life of my pity party or I can take what happened to me, and share it with others, and see if it resonates with someone else that may have had skin cancer or may be putting off a skin check," she said.
Her message for young women is, "If you want to look tan or have a glow, there are so many great options with spray tans or self-tanners. And it's way safer than going out in the sun."
Leah needs skin checks every three months and makes sure to protect herself outdoors.
Melanoma rates are increasing in the U.S. and have doubled over the last 30 years.
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