Are you protected this summer? Local woman shares story during skin cancer awareness month

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – May is skin cancer awareness month.

Caitlin Jones of Wooster says it was March of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, that her husband noticed a growing lesion on the top of her head.

“And not for too long of a time, but pretty rapidly it had grown in size and the color had changed and he said, ‘hey, I think you should really go and get that checked out.'”

Jones, 30, who works as a physician’s assistant says even she was hesitant to get checked out, as COVID-19 cases were on the rise and since a prior skin check on that same mole came back negative.

But this time, a biopsy would reveal a diagnosis of melanoma.

Cleveland Clinic photo

“I was very concerned that maybe I had waited too long and that I would be in a pretty dire situation,” she said.

Jones admits to spending her childhood in the sun, working summers as a lifeguard.

As the weather warms up and the sun comes out, so can harmful UV rays. And doctors say one bad sunburn as a kid can double, even triple your chances of getting melanoma as an adult

Doctor Brian Gastman is the surgical director of the melanoma and skin cancer program at the Cleveland Clinic and says, “We are seeing, on average, much thicker tumors than we have in the past. And I think those are the people who just sat, scared of COVID from coming in and being treated.”

Information source: Cleveland Clinic

Gastman says signs for melanoma will include asymmetry of the mole, funny edges around the lesion, dark in color, if the size of the mole is more than 6 millimeters or the length of a pencil eraser or if the mole is elevated.

“If it’s itchy, it’s bleeding, it’s ulcerating, it hurts, it certainly changing in size rapidly, it may not even be melanoma, it could be a different skin cancer,” said Gastman.

He is also the surgeon who removed Caitlin Jones’ lesion and fortunately, the cancer was caught early and did not spread to her lymph nodes.

Caitlin credits her husband for forcing her to go to the doctor. And now, one year later, the couple is expecting their first child in August.

“Don’t play odds with your health. And if you see something and you need the care? then go seek it,” Jones said.

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