Melanoma survivor speaks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Melanoma survivor speaks

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – After a winter of bitter cold temperatures and lots of rain, most of us are happy to experience the plentiful sunshine we've had lately. But caution shouldn't be thrown to the wind when you walk outside. Make sure to protect your skin.

If not, you could get sun damage, even skin cancer.

Brad Haire loves being outside, and always has. But as he spent time in the sun, the sun did damage to his body. Haire said, "I had noticed a mark on my stomach and the mole was starting to turn kind of dark, irregular, it was kind of ugly."

For a while, he just watched it, but finally decided to have a doctor check it out.

"It never crossed my mind I could have gotten skin cancer, but it should have. I spent most of my childhood without a shirt on, running around Worth County getting repeatedly burned and I'm fair complected and blue eyed. I have all the indications that run the risk of getting skin cancer," he said.

And that's what he got. That tiny mole, about the size of a pencil eraser, was melanoma. It's since been removed, but Brad doesn't want to take any risks of getting it again. "I've always been an outdoors person and I still am," said Haire, "but I just take precautions now by wearing a hat, wearing protective clothing and wearing sunscreen for sure."

Dermatologist Dr. Stuart Goldsmith says Haire is a great example to others. He said, "This time of year, go outside, do healthy things, do fun things, but just be careful."

Cover your skin and you will lower the risk of skin cancer. "Only the patient can really prevent him or herself from dying from melanoma," said Goldsmith.

And if you see something that looks strange, have a doctor check it out. Dr. Goldsmith said, "Any physician would rather tell a patient it looks fine, nothing to worry about, than for somebody to come in too late."

Haire beat the clock, and hopefully, beat the cancer. Haire said, "You don't think of yourself much as a cancer survivor, but cancer dodger." Dodging melanoma, and from now on, dodging some of the sun's rays that could damage his skin.

While white Americans are twenty times more likely to get melanoma than any other race, Hispanics and African Americans should also follow those precautions.

Here are some tips to remember when it comes to what to look for on your skin:  Asymmetrical moles or freckles should be brought to the attention to your doctor. If border is irregular, it is darker than other moles or spots or different than others, get it checked out.

 

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