Thompson decided to make it her mission to get the word out about the dangers of skin cancer.
“People don’t realize how important it is to get your skin checked if you spend significant time in the sun,” Thompson says. “You have to be vigilant. Maybe you’ll wear sunblock and UPF [ultraviolet protection factor] clothing such as a long-sleeve shirt while hiking, but what about when you’re walking on the street? We usually don’t think about it then.”
Thompson encouraged the same vigilance with tanning beds. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, several countries have banned commercial tanning bed use by minors because of the possibility of skin cancer. The same ban exists in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
“Prevention is the key,” Dr. Blackham says. “We’re learning more and more about how damaging UV [ultraviolet] light is, how important it is to avoid midday sun [10 a.m. to 2 p.m.] and to use sunblock liberally. Many people don’t reapply sunblock often enough.”
If you develop a spot on your skin, Dr. Blackham recommends monitoring it closely following the ABCDEs of melanoma.
“Most skin cancers are not hereditary,” Dr. Blackham says. “Most often it occurs because of the cumulative effect of sun damage over a lifetime. If you have a suspicious mole like Beth’s, get it checked as soon as possible.”