Just a week into my internship with Publicis Health, I was able to take advantage of a partnership with the Skin Cancer Foundation.
On Tuesday, June 13th 2017, Publicis Health sponsored the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Destination: Healthy Skin RV to stop in Philadelphia. From 8am to 4pm, The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) educated the surrounding community of the risks of skin cancer and healthy every day skin practices. Of course, as interns of the world’s largest health and wellness communications agency network, it was only right that we see it for ourselves.
With a heat advisory warning taking place in Philly, it was the perfect day to learn about the do’s and don’ts of skin cancer. With brochures in place to discuss the ABCDE’s of Melanoma and free sunscreen samples, anyone who wanted to learn more information was more than welcome. While the RV did provide sanctuary against the blistering heat, the best part of the event was actually taking place inside the RV. The hottest commodity of the day was the free skin cancer screenings.
Lucky for me, I was fortunate enough to be one of the small number of individuals tested. After waiting around an hour or so, I walked into one of the two examination rooms and replaced my clothes for a hospital gown. Dr. Stephen D. Hess from Center City Dermatology was kind enough to volunteer his afternoon seeing patients. He entered the examination room, shook my hand, and began the screening. One by one he checked any and every spot on my body.
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit apprehensive. Although skin cancer wasn’t common in my gene pool, I have spent a copious amount of time under the sun. Living close to the beach meant that I spent some time every day laying out under the sun. That means, every day made me more susceptible to skin cancer. Nevertheless, I was optimistic.
After about 7 minutes he pronounced me “perfectly fine…except for this one spot on your foot.” My stomach dropped and thousands of thoughts flooded my mind. Do I have skin cancer? Is it Melanoma? Why is this happening? As if Dr. Hess read my mind, he assured me that he does not think it is cancerous, but that it does require attention. I wasn’t sure if he was saying it just to ease my discomfort or if he actually meant it. I left the RV with a cloud over my head.
As an over analyst, I couldn’t help but stress over the fact that he said “think.” He doesn’t think it’s cancerous? Well, I didn’t think anything was wrong, but now I’m walking back to work freaking out.
I immediately called my dad and told him what happened. Oddly enough, he was unfazed and proceeded to tell me that he’d schedule an appointment. Being the dramatic person I am, I asked him, “Why aren’t you freaking out? I could DIE.” But of course, like the father he is, he told me not to worry and that it’ll all be okay. I hung up the phone and proceeded to go about my day.
Now, as I write this and reflect on my experience, I feel more at ease. This was honestly a blessing in disguise. At almost 20 years old, and having never gone to the dermatologist, I realized that if I never got tested I probably would’ve never paid any attention to the spot on my foot. Living in a culture where “laying out” is the norm and burning to get tan is the way to be, many expose ourselves to the sun every day. Rarely does the thought of “hmmm, maybe I should apply sun screen today,” ever really cross our minds… and it should.
Although skin cancer and sunburns aren’t common in my gene pool, that does not make me immune. No one is. My biggest take away from this experience is that it is better to be safe than sorry. Preventing skin cancer can be as easy as monthly body checks, applying sun block, or even just wearing a hat. After this experience, you better believe that I’ll be making annual appointments to my dermatologist.
Although I came into the situation believing one thing and leaving with another, one thing is for sure – Dr. Stephen D. Hess may have just saved my life. Thanks, Destination: Healthy Skin, I owe ya.
For more information on how you can combat skin cancer, check out uv-me.com to see how Digitas Health and Razorfish Health plan to take down skin cancer. Take charge of your body!