May is National Melanoma Month and just happens to be the first Monday in May and  has been named National Melanoma Monday by the American Academy of Dermatology.

This day was set aside to raise awareness and has been doing exactly that since 1984. In the off chance you don't know Melanoma is a type of skin cancer and is the deadliest of the skin cancers to have.

Today when you leave your home wear orange and encourage others to wear orange to help raise awareness for skin cancer and the importance of regular skin checks.

Most people that know me also know that I had a bout with Melanoma 17 years ago. The back story is I surfed a great deal growing up in California. I spent more time on a surfboard than I did anywhere else. I never gave much thought to how much time I spent in the sun. I know the guys I hung around with never gave much thought to skin cancer either.

In 2001 my wife was looking at my lower back and said what is this and how long have you had this? I couldn't see what see was talking about but said I have a regular check-up physical and I'll ask the Doctor.

The Doctor during the course of the exam said the same thing as my wife, and said how long have you had this and no matter lets get a sample and get it to  the lab. The Doctor called a couple of days later and said, you and your wife should come back and see me. It didn't sound like it was one of those everything is going to be fine calls.

Back to the Doctor's office and the first thing that came out of his mouth was good news bad news. The bad news is the mole on your back is in situ melanoma. I asked what is the good news and he said it's staged between 0-1. The Doctor turned too me and said you should thank your wife, she just saved your life. Off to the Dermatologist and he removed the mole and skin checks every 3 months started.

There is nothing that takes the place for a skin check. I have had a couple of scares over the years and I'm on a plan to see a Dermatologist every 6 months and when a sample comes back questionable the checks switch from 6 months to 3 months.

The message here is use sun screen don't spare the sun screen, just use plenty when your out and about. The sun is not your friend and you don't want to tan, be safe as you can and use sun screen.

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