My name is Debbie and I am a retired RN/Esthetician and I will tell you my story. Twenty-five years ago I went to a spa in Florida with friends for our annual get-a-way. I loved the sun and spent many hours swimming and sunbathing to get a great tan. While there I noticed a young woman who was alone and looked very sad. I asked her to join our group and got to know her story over the week that we were together. Her name was also Debbie and we had the same Italian/French backgrounds. She told me that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma a few months before and was very depressed. She showed me her surgical scar on her right shoulder. At the end of our week when we parted, she told me to ask GP for a referral to a Dermatologist to get a full body check because I has so many moles all over my body. I told her that I had asked my Family Doctor for a referral and he told me that I was born with these moles and that they were harmless. She insisted that I try again when I got home.
A couple of months later I got a referral to a Dermatologist. She checked me and found 3 large/irregular moles on my back. The first one she removed on my right shoulder and in the same spot as my friend Debbie, was diagnosed as Melanoma Insitu. I was sent to Sunnybrook Cancer Centre where a surgical Oncologist did a wide excision surgery and found the margins clear. He told me that no further treatment was necessary at that time. To this day I am thankful for my new friend who insisted that I get checked and got me the early detection. I call her my Guardian Angel.
I have been a patient at the Sunnybrook Odette Centre for 25 years now. I have been diagnosed and treated for basil cell cancer on my face and legs as well as squamous cell cancer on my breast. I have learned the importance of using sunscreen and protective clothing when in the sun and continue to have my annual check-up at the Odette Centre. I am proud to now be working as a volunteer for The Melanoma Network of Canada at The Sunnybrook Odette Skin Clinic.
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