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Young Adults with Melanoma
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Trouble adjusting

I was told I had melanoma last year after my very first appointment to the dermatologist. Two weeks after being diagnosed, they removed the mole in question and left me with a 7 inch scar across my abdomen. Being a 19 year old girl, that was a hard thing for me to accept. I was told I would have to meet with my dermatologist every three months for a year or so to monitor my skin for new growths, which I soon found out would mean acquiring more tiny scars every time a biopsy was taken. My dermatologist advised against getting a tattoo to cover my scar, as new growths could pop up around it. She told me to be sure to wear at least spf 30 every day and sun protective clothing whenever possible. No more bikinis on my sunny Florida beaches. Even though it's been a year, I'm still having a really hard time accepting this new lifestyle. As a kid, I grew up sportfishing with my parents, visiting the beach whenever possible. I love the sun. But I'm having such a hard time accepting that the sun 'hates me'. I love the beach and the hot Florida sun and swimming in the pool and even sunbathing! I still can't fathom my world without sun drenched days. I spend so much time indoors now away from the sun that my bright orange red hair is darkening to brown. Has anyone else experienced these feelings? Is there a way to make this transition easier? Less shameful? Not so discouraging?

7 Replies

I can totally understand how you feel. I just was diagnosed this summer. I have spent half my summer avoiding the beach and sitting by my pool. I too love sunbathing and spending time in the sun. I now know I need to be more careful . I guess it will get easier in time. I love vacationing in tropical areas and now not to sure if I can do that anymore. It stinks but I know I never want a melanoma diagnosis again!


Hi! I was diagnosed in 2009. I had been an outdoors person. Love the water, swimming, running, boating etc. I was upset that I "couldn't " enjoy those things anymore. I was careful and did was I was told. Not to be a downer but in 2012 I was stage 4. I learned that after all is said and done we need to live with Awareness not fear. I continue to do all the things I love but with awareness. Which means I wear UPF clothing, hats and sunscreen. I seek shade but also enjoy life. I hope you can get to that point. Life is too short to not have fun and enjoy it! I run, swim, boat and enjoy the outdoors! You can do this!


I am sorry you are having to go through this at such a young age. Like you, I live being outdoors and it has been hard to adjust. Scars will fade and no one worth knowing will think less of you for having them. Some people might even find them interesting. There is a style of Japanese artwork where broken glass is put back together with gold and considered to be all the more beautiful for the scar that shows. In the meantime, try mederma for your scars; it takes a while but they will be much less visible.

In terms of missing the outdoors, sunbathing is no longer an option. But you will have fewer wrinkles when you get older as a benefit. Talk with your doctor about what he/she recommends, but you may be able to still visit the beach in off hours or with lots of sunscreen and shade. Maybe one of the pop-up tents? I am looking into a wetsuit-type garment that will protect me from the sun if I want to swim. Your doctor will know best what you cam handle.

Best of luck!


Thank you for posting this. I've been experiencing similar feelings. I was diagnosed with melanoma insitu a couple of weeks ago and had my surgery this week. I'm having a hard time adjusting from sun-loving to sun-fearing. Going from tank tops and shorts a few weeks ago to long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats has been difficult.


Hi I seen your post if you don't mind I will share a little of my history I have worked const my whole life I grew up Iiving in virginia love the outdoors melanoma was never in my thoughts I am LIVING with stage 3 metastic melanoma I to have a long scar on my back along with one under each arm and numerous others I have old school tattoos my derma jokes with me everytime saying my tasmaninin devil is flipping off my original scar where my melanoma started about a 6 inch scar. You aleady have your tattoo why would you put ink over that use your tattoo you have to help others dont be ashamend of that I will let you know thru my life I don't get intimated easy but I was scared I go within two weeks to have 1/3 of my lung removed at strong hospital in Rochester ny don't get depressed or mad or intimidated by melanoma I guess you have already had the mad feelings don't let them come back your going to have good and bad days just make sure you have a lot more good ones and very few bad ones. good luck and please don't cover it up with ink


It’s super hard being a young person who loves the outdoors and sun and who isn’t supposed to be out without being covered head to toe! I was diagnosed with melanoma in April 2017. In May I had 2 sentinel lymph node biopsy’s (groin and armpit), the entire left bicep, skin graft sight from my hip onto my shin. I basically look like I got into a really unfortunate sword fight lol. Luckily, you can still rock the scars and cute bikinis, just invest in a sweet beach umbrella and some good smelling sunscreen and body bronzer! Also, salt life and Patagonia make some really cute UV protected shirts and leggings! :)

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I grew up in Florida but live in Montana now. I was always out on the water and in the sun as a kid. After being diagnosed last year, I invested in a bunch of cute UPF shirts so I wouldn't have to worry about reapplying sunscreen all the time. Also, my husband is super fair skinned so we used to bring a whole pop up canopy to the beach and it was great! No chasing the shadow from an umbrella all day. Don't worry about the scars, they are your battle trophies! Lol. I seriously thought about covering mine with a huge lotus on the back of my calf but the thought of it possibly hiding a future melanoma has definitely changed my plans. Instead, rock it and use it as a chance to spread the word about checking your skin if anyone asks about it. You will find your way, it might just take time to figure out what works for you!


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