Sun Protection

The pain Sara Langill felt in her right hip didn’t concern her much, until she felt a lump as she massage tendons near her hip flexors following a soccer game. They felt this thing that felt like a rubbery grape,” recalls Langill, 33. Thinking it might be a hernia, she went to the doctor. Within days, Langill was diagnose with stage 3 melanoma an advance stage of the most serious form of skin cancer.

Soaking up sunshine

A “typical Southern California” kid born and raise in San Diego, Langill spent hours; also hours soaking up sunshine engage in outdoor pursuits. They’ve had more sunburns than I can count. They use to come into work on Monday, and if I wasn’t sunburned, they didn’t have a great weekend,” Langill recalls.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Langill is now speaking out as part of a campaign to people for sun protection and have their skin check regularly. Her melanoma diagnosis came in September 2016. A biopsy found cancer in the lymph nodes near her hip; also doctors eventually track the cancer to a “really small mole on the outside of my right calf,” Langill said.

It’s not unusual for someone to have advance melanoma without any clue of their cancer, said Dr. Melanie Palm, a dermatologist in San Diego. They recently had a three month period where they had 10 new melanomas; which I think as a solo practitioner is extraordinary,” Palm said. “Eight out of these 10 they find, the patient was unaware of them.”

History of skin cancer

Nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma every day; so according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Langill wound up in a clinical trial for Keytruda (pembrolizumab), a new immunology drug that turns the body’s immune system against cancer cells. What they know about melanoma, once it’s migrate in the body it’s very aggressive even in microscopic quantities, Langill said.

People who find one of these warning signs should see a doctor or dermatologist, as should anyone who regularly spends time outdoors, Palm said. Weekend warriors or people doing outside activities: really make sure you’re going to a board certify dermatologist and getting your skin check once a year, Palm said.

Elizabeth Ellestad, 36, has a history of skin cancer in her family and has kept that in mind, slathering on sunscreen and even carrying a parasol while watching her son play soccer. Having that history of skin cancer definitely puts me in the high-risk category,” said Ellestad, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C. Her hairdresser notice a little spot on her part. Ellestad had it biopsied on Valentine’s Day this year, and the spot turn out to be basal cell skin cancer.

The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield you from harmful rays. Also advised: a broad spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Be sure to reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.