- “Real Housewives” star Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, 41, has chosen to undress and show off her skin cancer battle scars for the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF)’s Get Naked campaign.
- Mellencamp was declared cancer free from stage 2 melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, after having 12 spots and three lymph nodes removed in 2022.
- Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in the same cells that give your skin, hair and eyes their color. Ninety percent of melanomas are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, so it’s important to protect your skin with things like sunscreen and clothing.
- Paying attention to moles or growths on your skin is an easy way to look out for melanoma since changes to a mole you’ve had for a while or developing a new growth you don’t remembering having on your skin could be signs of of this cancer, according to SurvivorNet’s experts.
Mellencamp, who was declared cancer free from stage 2 melanoma after having 12 spots and three lymph nodes removed, partnered with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) as the 2023 #GetNaked campaign spokesperson – which allowed her to bare it all for a billboard in New York City.Read More
“Join me and @CureMelanoma all month for helpful prevention and awareness resources and remember to #GetNaked & schedule your annual dermatological skin check, today!”
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“Melanoma is not just skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on the body – eyes, scalp, nails, feet, mouth, etc. Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race or gender,” she wrote in another post. “#GetNaked and take action to prevent #melanoma and spread awareness today! Check out @CureMelanoma for more information. Who’s scheduled their checkups?”
In a recent news release, MRF noted that melanoma claims approximately 8,000 lives across the U.S. each year.
“The #GetNaked campaign encourages everyone to embrace sun safe practices and schedule an annual dermatological skin check by showcasing dynamic and bold images and sharing powerful testimonials from real melanoma patients,” the media release states. “Throughout May, the MRF will host educational opportunities helping to inform the public on sun safety, prevention and early detection.”
In Mellencamp’s campaign photos, she proudly shows off her skin cancer battle scars on the upper right side of her back.
In a recent interview with The U.S. Sun, Mellencamp recounted when she had her photos taken for the campaign, explaining, “When the photographers and everybody got there, they asked if I wanted to do it at a studio or at my house, and I was like my house. But everybody made me feel really comfortable and, all of a sudden, I started looking at my scars in a different way.
“Like, not that they are these things that I need to cover up or that make me sad, but mainly they’re my warrior scars and it’s, like, let my scars be your lesson to how you can take action yourself and not end up in the same situation that I’m in,” she said.
Expert Melanoma Resources
- ‘A Game Changer’: New Combination Immunotherapy for Advanced Melanoma Offers More Options For Patients
- A Melanoma Vaccine for Metastatic Patients
- A Biopsy of Your Mole Doesn’t Mean You Have Melanoma
- Am I at High Risk for Melanoma?
- Dramatic Improvement in Melanoma Survival Rates– The Treatment Revolution is Working
- Melanoma in Situ is Highly Treatable
Mellencamp told the news outlet she doesn’t plan on covering her scars in the future.
Referring to what her husband, Edwin Arroyave, CEO and Founder of Skyline Security Management, thinks of her scars, she said, “I had a tank top on a couple of weeks ago and he just was like, ‘Babe, you look like a bada** right now. Like, those scars look like I would want to know the story.’
“And I just kind of laughed and we had a moment, but I realized like, I think they’re beautiful because it’s a testament of what I’ve gone through, and the more that I can show them to other people, the more that the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma will become transparent and go force them to get checked,” Mellencamp added.
Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave’s Skin Cancer Journey
After having a cancerous mole removed from her shoulder, Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave told fans in a March 22, 2022, Instagram post, “Got my results back and it’s good news: melanoma in situ which means the cancer cells were contained in that area of my skin and have not spread any deeper!”
Also known as “stage zero,” melanoma in situ is the earliest stage of the extremely deadly cancer. Since then, she knew she would have to go in for 3-month checkups and be vigilant about skin protection.
But sadly, Arroyave shared the news of another, more serious melanoma diagnosis in October 2022.
“Melanoma awareness update. Despite my anxiety, I listened to the doctors and went in for my 3-month skin check last week since my previous melanoma,” she wrote in an Instagram caption. “They said I had another abnormal spot near my last one so they did a biopsy. I got the call this morning: Stage 2 melanoma.”
A surgeon had to “cut out” the cancerous spot.
“Moral of this story: if a doctor says, ‘come in every 3 months’ please go in every 3 months,” she said in her earlier post. “I so badly wanted to blow this off. ‘What could happen in 3 months?’ I thought. Apparently a lot.”
She then went on to say that her experience has taught her a very important lesson about her health.
“I continue to share this journey because I was a 90s teen, putting baby oil and iodine on my skin to tan it. Never wearing sunscreen or getting my moles checked until I was 40 years old,” she wrote. “This has been such a wakeup call for me, and I hope to all of you, to love and protect the skin you’re in.”
Learning About Melanoma
Melanoma, like what Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave had, is a type of skin cancer that starts in the same cells that give your skin, hair and eyes their color. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 99,610 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States in 2023
And while the ACS says the risk of melanoma increases as people age with the average age of diagnosis being 65, the disease is not uncommon among those younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women).
The disease can develop from an existing mole or appear as a dark or pink growth on the skin even in places on the body that never see the sun. It’s also known to be the deadliest form of skin cancer.
“Melanomas are the deadliest type of skin cancer because they have a tendency to spread to other parts of the body,” explains Dr. Anna Pavlick, a medical oncologist with Weill Cornell Medicine who specializes in treating skin cancer.
Ninety percent of melanomas are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This means excessive time in the sun – even as a child – puts you at a higher risk.
Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Skin From Skin Cancer
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Dendy Engelman from MDCS Dermatology in New York shared the top five things you can do to avoid skin cancer:
- Avoid sun during peak hours, which is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect the tops of our heads, the tops of our ears and the delicate area around the eye.
- Wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen and make sure to reapply every two hours or after excessive sweating or swimming.
- Have yearly skin checks (with a professional), because it’s difficult to evaluate areas all over the body.
- Avoid tanning beds. There are no “good” tanning beds, and they can significantly increase your risk of melanoma.
Paying Attention to Your Skin
Keeping an eye on the moles or growths on your skin, just as Mellencamp continues to do, is an easy way to keep an eye out for melanoma. Changes to a mole you’ve had for a while or developing a new growth you don’t remembering having on your skin could be signs of this cancer, according to SurvivorNet’s experts.
Examining Your Skin for Melanoma Remember ABCDE
Dr. Cecilia Larocca of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute gives SurvivorNet an overview of things to look out for with moles using the ABCDE self-screening method:
- Asymmetrical moles: “If you drew a line straight down the center of the mole, would the sides match?”
- Borders that are “irregular, jagged, not smooth.” It can also stand for bleeding.
- Colors: “Multiple distinct colors in the mole.”
- Diameter: “Larger than 6mm, about the size of a pencil head eraser.”
- Evolution: “This may be the most important,” she says. “Anything that is changing over time such as gaining color, losing color, painful, itching, hurting, changing shape, etc.”
Spots on our skin are often harmless, but it’s still important to keep an eye on them and reach out to your doctor if you see any changes or find a growth anywhere on your skin that looks suspicious.
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Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff
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