NEW YORK — Katie Michaud is grateful for these moments.
“I saw my life flash before my eyes.”
Six months ago, she was about to welcome her second child when a trip to the dermatologist to check what she thought was a wart on the back of her arm turned out to be stage 3 melanoma.
“I am 37 weeks pregnant and they are telling me I have the deadliest skin cancer there is,” she recalled. “I was just completely distraught.”
Melanoma has been increasing in recent years. It’s now one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially young women. Nearly 90 percent are thought to be caused by exposure to UV light from indoor tanning and the sun.
“It tends to occur in younger women, in areas that are often covered – on thighs or stomach or breast or buttocks,” said Dr. Elizabeth Hale with NYU’s Langone Medical Center.
She recommends yearly skin checks.
“If they see a mole changing or a new spot on their skin they should get it checked by a dermatologist right away. Most skin cancers are preventable and totally curable when caught early.”
Michaud was induced early so she could have surgery right away. She was left with a large scar, but needed no further treatment because the cancer had not spread.
She hopes other young women take her advice and stay away from tanning booths and always wear sunscreen.
“Just protect yourselves and your children because you never know it could happen to you. I never thought it could happen to me and it did and thinking back on all the times I went tanning to get that nice bronze – I wish I had passed.”
She said it’s just not worth the risk.