Carson Smith, a sophomore at Auburn University studying political science and history, is used to having a hectic schedule. She takes classes, is involved with her sorority and finds time to compete in pageants for the Miss America Organization as she competes for Miss Alabama. (Photo, right: Carson Smith crowned as Miss Covered Bridge 2016. Provided by: Carson Smith)
Carson has experienced her share of challenges, too.
During the summer of 2015, Smith noticed a mole on her leg that continued to get progressively darker. She went to her doctor and received a punch biopsy to get tested. A week later she added something else to her busy schedule. Smith was diagnosed with melanoma and was now a cancer patient.
Since Smith’s initial visit with her doctor, she has had a total of 15 punch biopsies and major surgery in three spots. Luckily for Smith, cancer has not spread to her lymph nodes, yet she is still under close watch from her doctors at the Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile, Alabama.
“I grew up using the tanning bed and going to the beach and laying out in the sun, I never thought that I would have skin cancer,” said Smith. “No one ever thinks it is going to happen to them, but 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.”
Smith was very thankful that her professors were able to work around her doctor appointments so she wouldn’t have to medically withdraw for a semester. She was beyond grateful for supportive friends who were there to console her when she received the unforgettable phone call from her doctor.
“I think it was a big eye-opening experience for all of my friends too,” said Smith. “It really hit them that skin cancer can happen to anyone.”
After being diagnosed with melanoma, Smith knew this was a chance for her to educate other people. Her previous platform for Miss Alabama had been “Make a Resolution to Stop Water Pollution” which she used to educate youth on the importance of conserving and protecting our waters.
This past fall she changed her platform to “Save the Skin You’re In” where she educates and raises awareness about the dangers, causes, and prevention of skin cancer. (Photo, left: Carson Smith before surgery. Provided by: Carson Smith)
Smith suggests that you should check your skin regularly for any changes in color or size of any moles or freckles, not to use the tanning bed and use sunscreen all the time, not just when you plan on being outdoors.
“I might be covered in scars but at least, I am currently cancer free,” said Smith. (Photo, right: Carson Smith and her sorority sisters supporting her new platform "Save the Skin You're In." Provided by: Carson Smith)
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer can affect anyone no matter your age, race or gender. Having five or more sunburns in your lifetime increases your chances of getting skin cancer by 80%. Using the tanning bed, even just one time can increase your chances of developing skin cancer by more than 60%. More people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. (Source)
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Smith noticed a mole on her leg that continued to get progressively darker. She went to her doctor and received a punch biopsy to get tested. A week later she added something else to her busy schedule, Smith was diagnosed with melanoma and was now a cancer patient.