Jen Levine-Fried, diagnosed at 32

My life is amazingly full and busy. I’m always in motion- thinking about what is next in my career, studying, planning fun activities with my young family, and taking care of the daily necessities. I also keep on top of my health, especially regular skin cancer checks.

“Because of my family history, I always felt that it was a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I’d have melanoma.”

That was the key to my diagnosis. My father was diagnosed with melanoma when I was in college and died about eight years later: an emotionally grueling experience that of course changed my life in so many ways. Not long after my Dad was diagnosed, I started to have regular screenings for skin cancer. I’m really fair-skinned and have a crazy number of moles all over my body. No, I never did any indoor tanning, but I did sit in the sun a lot as a teenager. Most of us did back then in the 80s; we really didn’t understand the risks.

Because of my family history, I always felt that it was a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I’d have melanoma. It’s not fun to have that hanging over your head, but I stayed true to having those screenings. I was 32 in March 2005 when, during one of those regular screenings, my dermatologist removed a suspicious mole.

A biopsy confirmed that it really was melanoma. But because we acted early, thanks to the regular skin checks, and my dermatologist had removed the entire cancerous patch, there was no other treatment. That’s the beauty of catching melanoma early!

My kids are growing up differently as far as the sun and UV exposure go. Sunscreen is a constant “must.” Know that you need to protect your skin and do whatever you can to perform regular skin checks. It can save your life.


  • no early symptoms
  • caught by a regular screening when she went to her doctor, and he tested a mole