“Skin cancer is not a joke,” Borges said. “You get a freckle or something like that and it can be a lot more severe than what you think it actually is. It can turn into something really ugly and people aren’t really aware of that too much.”
Mayra Wenig, one of Grichnik’s patients, was diagnosed with melanoma in situ – the earliest stage of melanoma– after a tiny dot, less than one millimeter, was found on her left thigh. Using confocal microscopy and dermascopy, Grichnik was able to catch it and the melanoma was excised the next day.
She said all the spots on her skin she thought would be – or could be melanoma – weren’t.
“I have become in this past year pretty much the ambassador for skin care protection,” she said. “I tell everybody, especially my family and friends, that it’s like smoking: Do you really think you’re going to be the lucky one that doesn’t get it? I’m emphatic about it. How could you be so arrogant? What makes you think you’re not going to get it? Look at me.”
Wenig admits that she was guilty of baking herself in the sun and putting baby oil all over her body prior to her diagnosis. The 61-year-old has been living in South Florida for more than 40 years, and she would dive and go to the beach without thinking twice about protecting her skin from the sun. Her fair skin never allowed her to tan. Instead, she would always burn and peel.
Now, her life has changed dramatically.
“I live with product on me, in my bag, in my bathroom, in my car,” she said. “I wear a 50 SPF hat. My umbrella is made by the people who are in the Melanoma Association and pretty much, I live away from the sun and don’t go out of my house typically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. if I can.”
Grichnik leaves one more piece of advice: “The bottom line is that we all have to pay attention because nobody is immune to the possibility of developing skin cancer. Enjoy life, but be smart about it. Cooking our skin with ultraviolet light is not ideal.”