May: Melanoma and Mental Health Awareness

May is a pretty important month. Melanoma, and skin cancer, awareness… plus mental health awareness. It’s always good to learn more, even better if it may save your life.

I didn’t know Melanomas ran in my family, until I was diagnosed with it. Mine was Stage 0, and after an in-office procedure that left an ugly scar I’m “cancer free”… for now. Having had a melanoma, I am significantly more likely to get more. My every-six-month visits will help manage this for the rest of my life. My doc said I should share this info with family since it runs in families. When I mentioned this to my Dad he stated he had one removed (thanks Dad for telling me sooner!) My sister also claims she had one removed (but she isn’t sure.) I find all this out after my own diagnosis. I should have known sooner. We need to share this information with our families.

How did I even know to see a dermatologist? I honestly don’t know. I just had a feeling. The spot she removed, the melanoma, wasn’t even on my radar. I have so many freckles, I simply don’t pay much attention to them. I had this feeling I needed to get checked out. She also found, and removed, a basil cell carcinoma. Those are far less rare and far less scary, as they rarely move beyond the skin.

Growing up in California, spending summers in south Florida, I certainly had my share of sun. I also loved tanning beds. Both are so bad, so dangerous. If I can share any ‘words of wisdom” from this it’s that I encourage everyone to embrace sunscreen and avoid tanning beds.

There is some fantastic information out there about how to spot skin cancer, and what to do:

Mental health is huge, and foundational to a healthy and happy life. Yet sometimes “good” mental health eludes us. Sure, we all get sad, disappointed, bored, anxious, etc. But the inability to experience them as temporary states, versus long-term states, is what can erode ones mental health.

There are many different types of mental health issues.

  • mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
  • anxiety disorders
  • personality disorders
  • psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
  • eating disorders
  • trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • substance abuse disorders

“The diagnosis of mental illness can be controversial. There have been many debates in the medical community about what is and isn’t a mental illness. The definition can be influenced by our society and culture, but most mental illnesses occur across all countries and cultures. This suggests that they are not just constructed by social norms and expectations, but have a biological and psychological basis too.”

The commonality to all of these is that you can get better if you get help. It’s not weakness to seek help… help in any aspect of life, especially your health. It actually makes you stronger. If you’re needing emergency help now, please call 911. You wouldn’t avoid getting a broken arm fixed, treat your mental health just as diligently.

We’ve heard a lot about “health” due to the political agendas on healthcare. Let this be a guide for you to prioritize your health, your mental wellbeing, your goals in life as they relate to health and aging. Take care of your skin, take note of your moods and disposition, seek help when needed. Seek to be strong with your body and your mind. You deserve it. You really do deserve it.


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