Butter and baby oil were Amanda Moore’s introduction to the joys of tanning—and turning her pale complexion bronze during her teen years.
Moore’s mother was adamantly against tanning beds, so the young woman would meet her friends in secret at her grandmother’s house to bathe in the sunshine, completely slathered in butter, baby oil or "anything that would attract the sun.”
"I absolutely hated being pale, so the day I turned 18 I went and bought an unlimited tanning pass. I went just about every day for years,” she recalls. "It was so relaxing to just lie there in the peace and quiet.”
Then, at the age of 27 and a new mother of infant twin boys, she noticed that a questionable mole had appeared on her chest. A visit to her community dermatologist resulted in a diagnosis of melanoma and surgery.
"I am certain my persistent tanning is what caused my melanoma, but at first it was really hard for me to give it up,” she recalls. "But I don’t want to be taken away from my family—my boys need their mother—so I stopped tanning.”
Three years after her initial diagnosis and treatment, two additional suspicious spots developed: one on her right hip, the other in the crook of her knee.
"I was at my gynecologist’s office for a regular checkup when she noticed the spot on my chest. She insisted I get it checked as soon as possible. Not next month—tomorrow, preferably, so I knew it was probably cancer again,” says Moore, now 30. "I knew I needed to have it looked at, but I was so busy with the kids and work that I kept putting it off.”
She sought the counsel of UC Health dermatologist and UC College of Medicine assistant professor Adam Ingraffea, MD, who biopsied the area on her hip and confirmed another melanoma. She was referred for surgery with Jeffrey Sussman, MD, UC Health surgical oncologist and chief of surgical oncology at the College of Medicine.
Fortunately, the cancer was localized and had not spread to her lymph nodes, so no additional treatment was needed. Moore says she feels like she got a second chance.
"After that second diagnosis, I was scared to death that I would develop another cancer. Now I do everything I can to control the things I can, but I’m realistic about it. I know it is more likely than not that I will develop skin cancer again. I just try to stay positive and do everything I can to catch it early.”
That means daily personal skin checks, always wearing sunscreen and regular follow-ups with her skin cancer team—every three months with dermatology, every six months with surgical oncology.
During daily life, the special education student assistant for Norwood City Schools insists that her entire family is smart about their time in the sun by wearing sunscreen and limiting their overall exposure.
"When I hear young girls at our church talk about going to the tanning bed, I cringe. I tell them, ‘I can’t control what you do, but tanning isn’t worth it.’ If they are willing to listen, I tell them about my experiences in the hopes that I can prevent them from going through it, too.”
» To learn more about UC Health’s multidisciplinary skin cancer team, a part of the UC Cancer Institute, visit cancer.uc.edu.
» To schedule a skin cancer screening, call UC Health Dermatology at 513-475-7630.
» For surgical oncology, call UC Health Surgical Oncology at 513-584-8900.