ORLANDO, Fla. (KFSN) --In 2013, there were more than one million people living with melanoma of the skin in the United States. The diagnosis drastically changed one woman's life, and the four things dermatologists say you need to know to prevent it.
"I wanted to be tan because I felt prettier tan. I felt like I looked skinnier tan. But it's just, it is not worth it. It is just not worth it," Christine Bledsoe told Ivanhoe.
Like many young people, Bledsoe loved the outdoors and a tan. But that love for the sun came back to haunt her when she was diagnosed with skin cancer in her early 20's.
She said, "When I was diagnosed, it was a really trying time."
Most of the time, Bledsoe went outdoors and to tanning booths without sunscreen. Luckily, her dermatologist caught her cancer early enough to save her life.
Board certified dermatologist at Knight Dermatology Institute, J. Matthew Knight, MD, explained, "A tan is your body's way of trying to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It's not desirable and it's not healthy. It's your body saying 'enough, I can't take all this ultraviolet radiation. So I'm going to do something to try to protect myself from it.'"
That's why doctors also urge people to wear broad spectrum sun screen to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays, protect yourself even in an overcast day, get vitamin D from what you eat, not just from sunlight, and tanning beds? No way! Meanwhile, Bledsoe encourages everyone to ...
"Just go! Go and get checked. It's not going to hurt you. It could save your life like it did me. I wish I would've gone a lot earlier, a lot sooner maybe it wouldn't have been as bad. You know, when someone is there sitting across from you and they tell you that you have cancer and you have heard it not once, not twice, but four times, it does make you reflect. And it makes you appreciate every single day that you have here on this earth."
Bledsoe wants others to do the same, without a life-threatening diagnosis from their doctor.
Doctor Knight also recommends zinc-oxide and titanium- oxide-based sunscreens, which he says block out most of the l the sun's rays.