Told by Margaret’s sister, Donna.
My little sister Margaret was so full of life. She was the glue that held our whole family together. As a teenager, she liked being tan so she slathered on iodine and used UV Reflectors regularly. We all did it and never thought anything about it- I know better now.
In 1989, Margaret was 28 and a single mother to 2 young children. One day, she told me that a skin tag that she had on her side (just under her armpit) had started to itch. To her, it felt like it was burning- hot to the touch and uncomfortable. She complained about it for months until my mom finally convinced her to go and see a doctor. At the doctor’s office, they removed it right away and sent it to the lab for testing. All of our lives changed forever when she got the results 2 weeks later.
The doctors called her in and told her that she had melanoma and that she needed to get more skin removed right away. She did and was treated with chemotherapy as well, but the skin cancer kept coming back. She had more of it removed two more times and then was told that they couldn’t remove it any more- there was nothing more they could do, she was out of options. The melanoma ended up growing the size of a small basketball by the end.
My sister Margaret died in 1991, exactly 18 months after she first went to the doctor. She left behind a 3 year old and a 5 year old who have had to grow up without a mother. Going to the doctor sooner would have increased the chances of her still being with us. I miss her every day and take her story as a cautionary tale. I’ve since had 3 melanomas removed from my body because I was aware of what could happen if I didn’t get it checked right away.
If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to know what’s normal for your body and get anything abnormal checked right away. The itching that Margaret felt was not a normal thing—I know that now. Even if it’s nothing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Melanoma is no joke and it can kill you. Wear sunscreen and put it on your children. I’m adamant that my kids and grandchildren wear it every time they leave the house. A tan is not worth leaving your children and your family to grieve.
- skin tag under armpit
- hot to touch