Mom Reveals Realities of Skin Cancer With Before and After Photos

If you were to look at Bethany Greenway now, you’d think she was just like any other mom. However, Greenway’s spent the past year in treatment for two types of skin cancer, which she chronicled on Facebook in a photo album called “Melanoma Photo Diary.

In 2014, Greenway first saw what she thought was a liver spot on her head. Not only was the spot a bit alarming, the constant aching she experienced was as well. Knowing that her mother had stage 1B melanoma in her 30s, Greenway had her spot looked at, but was told it was benign. Two years later, in 2016, she received the devastating news.

woman with melanoma cancer pointing to mole on forehead

“I remember that my plastic surgeon called on a Thursday, just after my father-in-law took my oldest child swimming at the neighborhood pool,” Greenway told The Mighty. “The doctor asked if I was sitting down because we needed to have a serious conversation.”

That’s when her surgeon told her, after finally getting biopsy results from several different labs, she had two different types of cancer. The mole on her forehead was desmoplastic melanoma, and the bigger spot on her forehead was melanoma.

Greenway was soon put in touch with an oncologist and had her first of two surgeries in August 2016. One surgery consisted of a skin graft — where skin from her thigh was put on her forehead — and the second surgery consisted of removing five millimeters of the lower half of her surrounding skin.

She then decided to chronicle her journey, from diagnosis through current treatment, on Facebook. You can see some photos below.

Recovering from her first surgery.

woman with melanoma cancer in hospital bed

Introducing her medicated compression bandage, which she calls “SpongeBob’s Asshole.”

woman with melanoma cancer with compression sponge on head

Getting SpongeBob removed and meeting “Bacon.”

woman with melanoma recovering after surgery

Starting the healing process.

woman with melanoma cancer with bandage on head

Lying in a hospital bed the morning before her second surgery.

woman with melanoma cancer with bandage on head in hospital bed

Healing after the second surgery.

woman with melanoma cancer close up of head scar

First time going out after surgery.

woman with melanoma cancer close up makeup

Feeling frustrated.

woman with melanoma cancer head wrap

Being tired.

woman with melanoma cancer feeling tired

Finding three remaining eyebrow hairs.

woman with melanoma cancer pointing to eyebrows

Feeling like a dragon after radiation treatment.

woman with melanoma cancer close up of radiation treatment

And getting more biopsies.

woman with melanoma cancer getting biopsy

Throughout her journey, one thing Greenway said keeps her grounded is the love she has for her daughters, whom she makes a point to have “special dates” with every day.

“The girls get to choose what type of activity we do. It’s a time for us to reconnect and for me to slow down for a moment each day. Vegging out and cuddling with them makes life so much easier.”

woman with melanoma cancer with kids

Greenway also credits staying active with helping her through treatments. What started as a 2K swim at Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas then led to a 5K swim at Lake Travis (where she swam during her second pregnancy), and then to another 2K swim again.

Then, after jokingly suggesting to start a triathlon team with a few friends from The Shade Project (a nonprofit dedicated to preventing skin cancer), they actually took her up on the offer and created one. She just completed her second relay triathlon this past week.

woman with melanoma cancer at triathlon

Greenway hopes that sharing her photo diary will inspire others to do the same, but also keep them educated about the dangers of skin cancer.

woman with melanoma cancer with cool haircut

Her words of wisdom: “Listen to and take care of your body, and pay attention to the changes it makes.”

To see more of Greenway’s melanoma photo diary, follow her on Facebook.

For more stories like this, like Cancer on The Mighty on Facebook.

All photos courtesy of Bethany Greenway

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Melanoma

Woman standing on beach

My Skin Cancer Scar Has a Story to Tell

The scar is thick, pink and prominent. It stands out — literally. It is a raised scar, larger than the original wound — a keloid scar, the doctors call it, as they remind me I can undergo surgery at any time if I want to “fix” it (I don’t). I love to run my fingertips [...]
woman showing strength in sunset

Why You Don’t Always Have to Be Strong to Survive Cancer

The most common metaphor used to describe having cancer is the “fight.” We are fighting cancer. And, really, that makes sense. Cancer cells grow, and we do whatever it takes to kill them. There is a protagonist and an antagonist, and they are in direct conflict. Our bodies are a battleground, and there are plenty [...]
A woman sitting by the edge of the water looking at the sky

Why I Take Nothing for Granted After My Cancer Diagnosis

Now that it has been a little over a month since my cancer surgery, I have had time to reflect on the entire experience. From the time I found out I had skin cancer in January, until right now, I haven’t cried. I think it’s because I was trying to convince everyone else I was going [...]
Woman smiling, in front of tree background

Revisiting My Cancer Journal, 30 Years Later

When I was diagnosed with brain cancer as a young adult, I remember thinking, “What would I do if I could survive 10 more years? How would I change? Who would I become?” As my treatment progressed, I tried to answer these questions through journaling. Now 30 years after my diagnosis, I used the anniversary [...]