Published Oct 4, 2021
Kelsie Dummètt of Brisbane, Australia, has skin checks to thank for leading her to her recent medical diagnosis: Melanoma, which was diagnosed after she discovered a freckle on her breast.
Dummètt, 25, was diagnosed with this aggressive and rare skin cancer in July after a biopsy on a freckle on her right breast, reports The Daily Mail. She also has an autoimmune disease, which she was diagnosed with at age 17. Over the years, Dummètt has had a total of 10 surgeries, 3 of which occurred in a single day earlier this year.
The news of her cancer has led to complicated emotions, she says. “To be completely honest I am absolutely terrified and the last few months has been torturous,” she tells The Daily Mail.
For those battling cancer, mental health support is available in the form of therapists and oncological social workers. Reach out for help when you’re struggling with a diagnosis. Your mental health matters, and it can impact your cancer treatment, too.
Dummètt’s early melanoma symptoms included pain in her right breast, fatigue, and feeling unwell. Her mom is a skin cancer survivor, and her father had multiple sclerosis (MS). Thankfully, her melanoma was discovered during its early stages. However, due to her autoimmune condition, doctors are worried that her cancer could recur and reach stage two or three. Due to the location of the melanoma, it was deemed unlikely to have been caused by the sun’s UV rays (which is the cause of many skin cancers).
One of Dummètt’s 10 surgeries included the removal of 7.5cm of breast tissue to cut out the melanoma and any surrounding tissue. Surgery like this is typically the best treatment option for melanoma. Dr. Nima Gharavi, director of dermatologic surgery at Cedars-Sinai, says in an earlier interview, “The gold standard for treatment of melanoma is a surgical treatment with wide margins.”
Early-stage melanoma that’s close to the skin’s surface may be treated with Mohs surgery. This type of surgery is a microscopically controlled procedure that removes skin cancer by conservatively cutting along the entire margin until the surgeon reaches clear tissue. It’s most often used to remove other skin cancers like basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
Protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen – as Dummètt does – and getting skin checks is so important. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the U.S., and you can protect yourself and lower your skin cancer risk by taking prevention steps.
In an earlier interview, dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman outlines five easy ways to protect your skin, and lower your skin cancer risk. She tells us: