Skin Cancer Awareness Month: More Than Just a Sun Spot

woman holding black ribbon
Monika at home with Grandma

As a child growing up with my old-fashioned European grandparents, my early memories are filled with visions of my grandmother’s gardens. I remember, come spring, and lasting until the fall harvest, our front and backyards were always a vibrant and decorated floral mecca. My German grandmother literally lived to garden, and took pride in the beauty of her work. Her fair skin and blonde hair would stick out amongst the backdrop of our rosebushes and carnations. I loved to see her there and run out to play and help her with my small plastic toy shovel-and-pail.
Close up of Grandma’s face after surgery.

As the years and seasons went by, she continued the art of gardening faithfully, until one day, at the age of 76, her dermatologist uttered the word, “cancer.” In that moment, everything changed. I watched her go to many doctor appointments, and complete various tests and procedures, until one fall day, at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, the entire left side of her face including her skin and underlying tissue was removed during MOHS surgery. Later, skin grafts were used to reconstruct the area where the melanoma had been and the surrounding tissue had been removed. From what started out as a “freckle-like” pin dot finished as a vertical scar extending from her jaw to her forehead. The cancer was gone, but my grandmother’s beloved summer days spent gardening would have to come to a halt.

This story is my personal ode to the month of May—nationally known as Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime? One person dies of melanoma in the U.S.—the deadliest form of skin cancer—every hour. One in fifty men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime. The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by UV radiation—from the sun’s rays or tanning bed lamps.

As a medical aesthetician with a passion for educating patients about ways to maintain healthy skin, I urge you to protect your skin every season, and every day. The application of sunblock, hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing can prevent the formation of cancerous cells within the skin. Life is, after all, a celebration. You can still enjoy the sunshine–and your summer gardens–just as my grandmother did. But make sure that when you stop and smell the roses, that you save your skin and potentially, your life.  Please email me today at to schedule a complimentary Reveal Imaging analysis to assess sun damage on your face.  My colleagues and I would be delighted to meet with you in-person and evaluate your skincare needs and desires.

Contributed by Monika Hendrix.