Local woman warns of the dangers of too much sun
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
CREATED Apr. 29, 2013 - UPDATED: Apr. 29, 2013
MILWAUKEE - After our cold spring, people are ready to get out and enjoy the sun. But is being tan really worth the risk?
Cases of melanoma are on the upswing across the U.S. and in Wisconsin. One warning: The pictures in this story might be disturbing.
"I had about a three-inch diameter hole in my leg" Elizabeth Potter said. That's the result of three surgeries. "I can't walk down stairs, I cannot sit at a desk."
Her life changed after a diagnosis of melanoma.
"The first thing I had thought was I'm not ready to die," she said.
Potter caught her cancer early. It's now gone but the physical changes and unbearable pain are not.
"The nerve pain that I have is best described as a million shards of glass," she said.
Elizabeth grew up on the beach and spent hours in the sun. The one thing she swears by now, and never goes outside without using, is sunscreen.
Something that should be routine for all of us Dr. Edith Olasz, dermatologist with Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin, said.
"You should never burn ever," she said. "Don't ever try to really consciously lay out in the sun."
Dr. Olasz pointed out it's also important to know your own skin.
"Most of the melanoma's are detected because the patient comes in and says, 'Hey I have something I don't like.'"
Potter is having her fourth surgery next month and has this message for others.
"You don't need the tan. It's just not worth it," she warns.
Melanoma can be very dangerous but if caught early the five year survival rate is 95 percent. To protect yourself, get screened. May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and Monday is the 6th is "Melanoma Monday." Dermatologists in the area are offering free screenings.
And over at Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin there is a new clinic that is one of a kind for the Milwaukee area. A dermatologist and oncologist work in tandem, seeing patients together. They are also conducting clinical trials for melanoma.