Reno mom survives melanoma, wants to spread awareness

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 4:22 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - “My uncle actually died from melanoma when he was 39 years old and he had a newborn baby that he didn’t get to see live to her first year of life,” Ashleigh Martinez said.

Martinez was also diagnosed with melanoma and she was pregnant. She was concerned that just like her uncle, she may never see her child grow up.

“Melanoma is one of the few types of cancers that can transfer through the placenta to the unborn child,” she said.

Thankfully, at 8 months pregnant, Martinez had the cancerous area on her shoulder removed. But she had to wait until after she had given birth to have her placenta tested for the disease.

“And it was not until then that I was assured that he did not have my melanoma,” Martinez said.

Melanoma is often caused by exposure to sunlight and UV rays in tanning beds. Genetics also play a part.

“Melanoma for the most part, comes from or looks like a mole so it’s pigmented type of lesion,” said board certified dermatologist Dr. Billie Casse.

Casse says that the size of the spot doesn’t matter. She’s seen moles as small as a pin prick.

“Anything that is changing, it’s important. You don’t have to wait for a certain size to come into the dermatologist,” Casse said.

She also suggested using the ABC’s of skin when looking at possible problem areas.

A - asymmetry, B - borders, C - color, D - diameter, E - evolving

Casse also said it’s not just older folks who’ve had a few sunburns back in the day that end up with melanoma.

“Those young adult groups in the 20′s to 30′s, the most common cancer that we find is melanoma,” she said.

There are some things you can do to prevent the cancer. Wear sun protective clothing or a hat and pay attention to your sunscreen.

“You want to find one that is UVA and UVB protectant. When it comes to your face, you want to make sure it’s also blue light and IR radiations protectant because that’s where that aging, that brownness comes from,” Casse said.

Martinez says that sunscreen is protection her family just can’t live without.

“Now, my children go to school with sunscreen on on a daily basis, it doesn’t matter if it’s winter or summer. We all wear sunscreen all the time,” Martinez said.

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