Skin Check Saves Woman's Life
Patient's 'Very Scary' Diagnosis is Proof How Important it is to Be Vigilant About Dermatology Visits
After Tracy's surgery, she went straight to social media and posted a photo of the four- to five-inch scar on her upper arm.
The caption? "This is my PSA."
An inconspicuous spot on her arm had brought her to the dermatologist. It ended up saving her life. The pink mark that looked like a pencil eraser was something much more sinister - malignant melanoma.
"She had told me if I had waited one more month, I would've had a different outcome," Tracy recalls of a discussion with her care provider.
Tracy says this is a prime example of how important sun safety and awareness is.
That's why it's so important to see a doctor if there's a questionable spot on your skin.
"It was very scary," Tracy says. "The care was awesome in how fast everyone got to me, but it also made me realize it's pretty serious."
Being fair-skinned and having her share of moles and freckles, Tracy says the mark didn't initially concern her - proof that any spot that suddenly pops up should be looked at by a dermatologist. Now, she makes sure she's shielded from the sun.
"I wear a broad spectrum daily sunscreen lotion every day," she attests. "No matter if I'm in the sun or not. All over my body. That's something I've never done before."
Shivani Patel, a Physician Assistant with Health First Medical Group Dermatology, urges people to pay attention to their skin and contact a dermatologist if they see something suspicious.
"I tell my patients that they play an important role in the early detection of skin cancers," Patel said. "I recommend monthly self-skin exams, where they inspect for spots that may be changing in shape, color, size or borders, or spots that start to have symptoms such as itching, burning, bleeding or pain."
Tracy hopes sharing her story will encourage others to be vigilant about their skin.
"Don't let your busy life get in the way of your health," she urges.