Melanoma skin cancer nail

Going to the nail salon is usually a fun and relaxing experience, but that wasn’t the case for a woman who recently visited a U.K. salon and made the startling discovery she had skin cancer.

Jean Skinner, a nail technician from Uckfield, East Essex, posted on Facebook that a walk-in client asked her for a dark color to cover a stripe down her nail. The client had been told it was everything from a lack of calcium to a blood blister, so she never paid much attention to it.

As soon as Skinner saw the line, she knew exactly what it was: melanoma.

Melanoma skin cancer nail

Skinner’s Facebook post, which was shared with her client’s permission, reads, “I did not want to frighten her but I told her she needed to see her doctor immediately! She called me today to tell me that yes it was a very aggressive melanoma that has already spread to her lymph nodes!”

According to the National Health Service , “Dark stripes running down the nails (linear melanonychia) are fairly common in black people over 20 years of age, and in most cases, it’s perfectly normal.”

However, dark lines shouldn’t be ignored because they could be a form of skin cancer called subungual melanoma. It’s similar to how a mole would appear on the body, but instead, a dark band appears and slowly starts to spread across the nail. This melanoma isn’t usually caused by the sun, but rather from injury or trauma, and often affects middle-aged to older adults with darker skin.

Skinner hopes her post will get others to pay attention to abnormalities in their nails (and the nails of others) because it could be a sign of something serious.

“Early diagnosis can make all the difference in the world,” she added.

Photo courtesy of Jean Skinner on Facebook


On Sunday, “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Tamra Judge shared a selfie on Instagram revealing she has skin cancer.

The reality TV star, who turns 50 in September, had no idea that the “small black flat freckle” on her rear end was cancerous. It turned out to be melanoma, a type of skin cancer that’s almost always curable when discovered and treated early but kills an estimated 10,130 people in the U.S. annually.

I work out ???? hard for this Booty. I was planning on competing again in November at 50 years old, but I’m not sure that’s happening ???? now. it looks like God has a different plan for me. Im showing you this picture because this is what melanoma looks like. I don’t want sympathy, I want you to save YOUR ASS and get your skin checked . This was just a small black flat freckle…. I had no idea! Ill be fine because my faith is strong and my Ass ain’t bad either???? Thank you @cacoastalderm ❤️. I’ve been a little sad , worried and pissed off. But we caught it early and that makes me happy ???? Happy birthday to me. #saveyourass birthday party in Cabo not sounding like a good idea now ???? #awareness.#skincheck

A post shared by Tamra Judge (@tamrajudge) on

“I’m showing you this picture because this is what melanoma looks like,” Judge wrote in her post. “I don’t want sympathy, I want you to save your ass and get your skin checked.”

Judge had a previous skin cancer scare in January of this year, sharing a series of Instagram posts following her skin cancer screening.

Despite the news, Judge remains positive, commenting, “I’ll be fine because my faith is strong and my ass ain’t bad either.”

All photos courtesy of Tamra Judge’s Instagram page

My journey with cancer starts in late August of 2016, with the removal of my mole happening just one day before my birthday on September 9, 2016.

I remember everything clearly like it was yesterday. I had gone to see my doctor to have a mole checked because my cousin, who is six months younger than me, was diagnosed with melanoma and had to have a lymph node dissection.

I had never been a worshiper of the sun, but the mole was a dark color, and it concerned me. My doctor didn’t think it was anything to be worried about since it didn’t have the usual ABCD markers for skin cancer, but he did a biopsy to be safe.

He called me a week later with the results and told me to sit down. I knew that couldn’t be a good sign.

He said, “I’m glad we did the biopsy because you have melanoma.”

Everything right after that was somewhat of a blur, but I remember writing down the number for the dermatologist that I was to follow-up with for removal.

At that time I was working for a children’s cancer research nonprofit and I had heard countless heartbreaking stories of treatment — and in some cases, death. I thought my diagnosis paled in comparison to what they were going through, but I was still worried.

I kept telling myself, “But, I didn’t have any symptoms except a small black dot on my right abdomen.”

A bit scared and unsure, I went to my dermatologist appointment thinking it would be minor — just like the initial biopsy. Boy, was I wrong. I had to have a 3-centimeter-wide and 4-centimeter-deep amount of tissue removed, I got 25 deep-tissue stitches and I had 30 above-skin stitches.

I was left in an excruciating amount of pain and was unable to care for myself and perform daily tasks.

I thought after the removal it meant it was over.

But that’s when my fight against this disease truly began — and I have a 4-centimeter-wide scar as a reminder.

close up melanoma scar

Now I have an increased risk of developing another skin cancer, including melanoma, salivary gland cancer, small intestine cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, soft-tissue cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Because of this I am extremely careful in the sun, I have appointments every three months with my dermatologists for a skin and lymph node check. Oh, and I’m weary every time I have a sore throat or swelling in my arm pits.

I want to remind everyone that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t come with any typical “look,” and it’s important to support every fighter. Also, please be safe in the sun. Even minor sun damage can lead to skin cancer.

I want to remind myself I have something extra to celebrate this year on my birthday — my one-year cancer-free anniversary.

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Thinkstock photo by Andesign101

An Austin mom diagnosed with two types of melanoma skin cancer shared photos documenting her life after diagnosis on Facebook.

Read the full version of Mom Reveals Realities of Skin Cancer With Before and After Photos.

Read the full transcript:

These Before and After Photos Show What a Year With Skin Cancer Looks Like.

Bethany Greenway spent the past year in treatment for skin cancer.

She chronicled her journey 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.

The constant aching led her to get it looked at, but she was told it was benign.

Two years later, in 2016, she received the devastating news.

“The doctor asked if I was sitting down because we needed to have a serious conversation.”

She had two different types of skin cancer.

The mole on her forehead was desmoplastic melanoma, and the bigger spot on her forehead was melanoma.

She decided to chronicle her journey, from diagnosis through current treatment, on Facebook.

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.

Her words of wisdom:

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

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

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 along it, feel the ridges where the stitches were, feel the smooth not-quite-softness. The reminder of what happened and what is yet to come.

I love making people guess how I got the scar because they never get it right. Sometimes I want to lie when they ask for the real story. Their versions (motorcycle accident, shark bite, alien parasite embedded under my skin) are always more creative and exciting than the truth.

When I tell people the scar’s actual origin, I have to watch their faces fall. I have to accept their pity, concern, even fear — because the scar didn’t come from something outside of me. It came from inside. From cancer.

Melanoma, to be specific. Stage IIA, which means it had extended just a bit further than 2 millimeters below my skin. As Texas Oncology explains, my cancer “had spread to the lower part of the inner layer of skin (dermis), but not into the tissue below the dermis or into nearby lymph nodes.”

That last part is important — if the cancer had spread to my lymph node, it would have reached stage III or IV. I would have had to undergo chemotherapy. My survival chances would have dropped from 67 percent to as low as 10 percent.

But I was very lucky. When she visited me in the summer of 2014, my mom took one clear-eyed look at the mole on my arm and told me to see a dermatologist. Thanks to her and to my doctors, we caught the cancer early. It hadn’t yet spread. I was going to be OK.

The doctors confirmed this by performing a sentinel node biopsy. The sentinel node is the lymph node closest to the spot where the cancer was detected — in my case, the lymph node in my right armpit. Previously I thought lymph nodes only existed on each side of the throat, where they swelled uncomfortably whenever I had a cold. But it turns out we have lymph nodes all over, working to keep us healthy but vulnerable to any cancer cells that might make their way up and down the rivers of the body.

A lymph node is a sort of hub — if cancer makes it there, it’s about to make it to the rest of the body, too.

To make sure this hadn’t happened to me, the doctors removed a thin slice of the lymph node in my armpit at the same time they removed the cancer in my arm. But first, nurses “stained” the node so the doctors could see if any cancer had spread to it. They did this by injecting ink directly into the lymph node, by way of an enormous needle.

For reasons I still don’t fully understand, this had to happen without anesthesia. Laying back on the hospital bed, I squeezed my hands into fists, digging my nails into my palms. I didn’t make a sound as pain roared through me.

“Wow,” one of the nurses said, after she removed the needle. “You handled that really well.”

“Really?” I said, blinking back tears.

She nodded. “A lot of people scream.”

I gave out one harsh, short laugh, flooded briefly with pride and a sense of superiority over all those other, “weaker” cancer patients.

Then, I felt terrible again.

There are a lot of ways I talk about my cancer, both to strangers and loved ones. All of them make up only part of the truth. I’m so lucky — I am — because they caught it super early and my parents’ insurance paid for almost everything. I didn’t even have to do chemo, and I got a badass scar out of it.

Just before and after the surgery, I refused to even discuss the issue by its real name; instead, I said the word “melanoma” with the tune and emphasis of the Muppets song “Manamana” — “muh-LA-nuh-muh, do-doo doo-do-doo.” With friends from home I joke with political self-deprecation that skin cancer was just the natural consequence of growing up as a white person, a haole, in sunny Hawai’i, a place where people like me were never meant to settle like we did, anyway. It’s a joke, an inconvenience, a cute song, and one tiny consequence among many huge injustices resulting from the American overthrow and annexation of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. These are all valid ways to talk about my cancer.

But there is another truth I rarely voice: I fear my body now.

I got cancer at 22 years old. My instinct is so strong it feels like fact: it’s going to come back.

Melanoma is the result of cumulative, irreversible damage done to the skin by UV rays — AKA, the sunlight that blessed my childhood in Hawai’i. Somehow, despite my parents constantly reminding me to use sunscreen, despite the hats and sun shirts and indoor kid tendencies — somehow, in just 22 years, my skin endured enough damage to turn cancerous.

As my life continues, my body will only see more sun. The damage will only grow. And I have this fear that the cancer will come back.

Here again the “I’m so lucky” mantra kicks in: after all, knowing my risks means I can stay vigilant and catch it early if it does. I can be informed, aware, vigilant. Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers once it spreads, but if you catch it early it’s among the most treatable. The doctors can literally scoop it out of you: it’s only skin-deep.

I am no stranger to dermatologists. Back in middle school, before I ever understood that I could get cancer (although my father, uncle, and great-grandmother had all battled it), I hated my skin for different reasons. I always had at least one swollen, painful zit that just wouldn’t pop, and my nose was so red that classmates nicknamed me Rudolph. I obsessed over — and hated — my appearance every time I passed a reflective surface.

Seeing how upset I was over my acne, my mother and grandmother decided to take me to a dermatologist. I didn’t tell them this at the time, but going to the “zit doctor,” as I mentally called him, made everything so much worse. The visits were painful; they involved needles and liquid nitrogen and they never seemed to improve anything. This is how ugly I am, I thought. A doctor has to treat me for it.

Back then, I thought chronic breakouts were the worst thing the outer surface of my body could do to me. But now “bad skin” has a more sinister meaning.

In bed, in the shower, in front of mirrors, I examine every part of my body I can see. Shortly after the surgery that saved me and gave me the scar, I thought I saw something. I was soaping my legs in the shower when something dark red and angry-looking revealed itself just past the curve of my calf. Its sudden appearance frightened me so badly I nearly fell, and as I threw out my hands to catch myself, the thing disappeared.

It had only been my fingertip, turned unfamiliar by the heat of the water and my fresh fear.

I am still afraid. Any freckle or mole that looks a bit too dark or asymmetrical, too big or too different, could mark a recurrence of cancer. I run my fingertips over my skin to feel for bumps; melanoma can sometimes manifest without color, burrowing invisible and deep. Whenever I find a suspicious spot, I circle it with a ballpoint pen and take a picture, saving it on my phone so I remember to ask the doctor about it.

This obsessive examination of my own body feels like middle school again, except this time it’s necessary. It is, ostensibly, a healthy thing to do.

It does not feel healthy.

I love my scar. I do. The texture, the stories it helps me collect, the way its color changes with the temperature and my heart rate, ranging from the same soft pink as the inside of my lips to an angry stand-out red. It’s a physical reminder of what I’ve survived. And it’s an odd comfort — my scar is the one place the cancer won’t come back. The one patch of skin that has already been through the worst and come out OK — better, even, because it looks pretty damn cool.

After years of working to accept and celebrate my body, my scar is the only part of my appearance that is easy for me to love.

The rest of my skin scares me. Where will the next scar be? Will I be lucky enough to get away with surgery again, or will I have to undergo chemotherapy? Sometimes I get melodramatic. Sometimes I feel certain I’ll die before I reach 50. That something inside me will eat me up, take me from my life and my family far too early.

I was 22 when it came, and I’m nearly 24 now. I go out at night sometimes, and if it’s warm, I wear short sleeves. Boys run their hands up my arm and stop when they feel it. I’ve learned to tilt my head, eyes half-lidded, and tell them with a smile to guess how I got it. It’s a game. It’s a test. Sometimes I allow myself a joke at their expense, and let these boys (I never do this to the girls I meet) think their guess is right.

And I am easily seduced by my own lie. It’s easy, it’s funny, we’re young and yeah, something bad happened and it left a strange mark — but now it’s over. It’s done.

The next morning, though, I always put on my sunscreen. Daylight demands I be honest and watchful. If I am lucky, this will buy me some time. A whole lifetime, I hope. If I am lucky, given enough time, these fears of mine may even fade.

But for now, after working so long against hating my own skin, I need to be scared of it. For now, that’s what keeps me vigilant. That’s what keeps me alive.

This post originally appeared on HelloGiggles.

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Thinkstock photo by Image Source Pink

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