Media & Resources

Skin Cancer Prevention Story

Young Woman Warns Others ‘It Can Happen to You’

Whenever a photo is snapped of Kristine Fargotstein, the 24-year-old turns her left shoulder away from the camera to hide the 3-inch scar on her upper left arm. Even two years after surgery to remove a pre-melanoma area, she can’t help herself. She’s self-conscious when her scar is showing and dreads heading into tank top season.

“I grew up in the Southwest where it’s gorgeous outside 24-7 and we were always outdoors. We didn’t always think about sun precautions,” Fargotstein explains. “I went to college in San Diego and I was a ‘beach bunny.’ I even went to tanning beds for awhile. I admit I was stupid. I wanted to be tan for graduation.”

Saved by Early Detection

After her trips to the tanning beds, Fargotstein noticed that a mole on her arm was a little darker. She wondered if it was something to worry about.  A short time later, while she was in her dermatologist’s office for an acne consultation, she hesitated to mention her concern. Thankfully, she did say something and her dermatologist took a biopsy. When the test results were back, Fargotstein got the news that it was serious — she’d have to see a plastic surgeon and have the mole removed.

“Doctors told me that it hadn’t yet developed into melanoma and they were able to ‘cut it out,’ but that I would now be susceptible to melanoma the rest of my life,” she says. Fargotstein is now adamant about wearing sunscreen, reapplying it and having annual skin exams. Every time someone asks about her red, zigzagging scar, she’s not shy about educating them about the risks of tanning beds and sun exposure.

Fargotstein, who now lives and works in the Washington D.C. area, urges others to talk to their doctors when they notice something is wrong with their skin. “Had I not said something to my dermatologist that day, I wouldn’t have seen her again for months. It could have developed into life-threatening melanoma by then.”

Skin Cancer on the Rise

Skin cancer has been on the rise for decades. Melanoma is the most lethal kind of skin cancer. One of its first signs is a change in color, shape, feel or size of a mole. While melanoma usually strikes adults in their 40s or 50s, doctors are also finding younger people with the cancer. The best way to prevent melanoma, doctors say, is to limit your sun exposure, especially during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; wear protective clothing; wear sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15; and avoid tanning beds and sun lamps.

Skin protection is now an issue Fargotstein is passionate about. “You’re young and think you’re invincible and then you realize at the age of 22, you could have a life-threatening cancer,” she says recalling the shock she felt after her diagnosis. “I had a 100 percent control of preventing it, but I didn’t because it was too important for me to look good in my graduation dress.”

“With skin cancer, you literally have the power in your own two hands to prevent it,” Fargotstein warns. “Be aware and realize that it can happen to you.”

Skin Cancer Prevention Message from US 50k Record Holder Josh Cox

As an ultramarathon runner who spends a lot of time outside, 50k American Record Holder Josh Cox knows that along with his time in the sun comes the serious risk of skin cancer caused by the sun’s damaging UV rays. That’s why he takes action to protect his skin before every run.

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month this May and the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Save Your Skin Campaign Josh shares a few steps you can take to protect your skin from the sun — this summer and all year round.

Skin Cancer Awareness Message from CNN’s Brooke Baldwin

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, who was diagnosed and treated for skin cancer, shares an important message about skin cancer prevention and early detection.

Skin Cancer Prevention Message from Poker Pro Maria Ho