This mother was worried about a mole but her doctor ignored her. Her 2-year-old daughter saved her life


In 2010, Amanda Eilian, then 33 years old, was leaving the house with her two girls when her eldest daughter made a comment about a mole that surprised her.

“My 2-year-old daughter pointed to a spot on my wrist, which I had never mentioned before, and said, 'Chocolate, you have chocolate, mommy,'” says Eilian, who is the co-founder of Able Partners and lives in New York City.

“It was such an unusual thing for her to say it and notice it,” he recalls.

The next time she visited her dermatologist, Eilian asked her to remove it. At first he paid no attention to it, but then he reluctantly took it away and insisted all the time that he was not evil. Eilian later learned that the mole was stage 2 melanoma.

“It was a great lesson, although it's not the way you want to learn it, to learn the importance of advocating for yourself and taking a proactive role in your own health,” he says, “it takes a certain amount of self-confidence to keep pushing and pushing.” for what one needs and, frankly, that confidence was lacking at that time and I have yet to intentionally cultivate that knowledge that I know my body better than anyone.”

The importance of skin checks

As she has light skin and hair, Eilian has always been aware of the need for regular check-ups. His grandmother and his aunt had melanoma, and several people in his family have been diagnosed with less aggressive forms of skin cancer. Thus, he performed self-examinations and visited a dermatologist annually.

For two years, the mole on her arm worried her.

“I had noticed,” he says, “a spot on my right wrist, an unusual spot, probably the darkest spot on my body.” “I later learned that (the color of the mole) was a common marker for skin cancer,” she adds.

When she first noticed the dark mole, she asked her doctor to examine it. But he told her that she was fine.

“He brushed it off and said, 'Don't worry,'” Eilian recalls.

The following year, she asked him to look at it again. Once again, she didn't pay attention to him. Finally, in 2010, her little daughter pointed out the place. This time, Eilian felt emboldened.

“He again dismissed my concern. I said, 'I feel uncomfortable, please take it off,'” he recalls, and “after I pushed it, he took it off me. But as he was taking it from me, I clearly remember him saying, 'I'm telling you, this is nothing.'

The next day he left Eilian a voicemail telling her that he had cancer. “That I was very sorry, but it was actually something,” he explains.

Eilian began seeing a new doctor, who performed a biopsy to measure the depth of the melanoma. His doctor diagnosed him with stage 2 melanoma. “It was a very, very scary thing to hear, having two small children at home,” she said.

A surgeon performed surgery to remove the mole and ensure it had clear margins, which was complicated due to the location.

“There was a concern that because of the amount of tissue they had to remove, there was a risk that I would lose some function in my hand,” Eilian says. “Thank God I never had that problem. But the surgery was a bit delicate from that point of view,” he explains.

The recovery went well, although Eilian had to juggle two young children at the time. She did not need any follow-up treatment, such as chemotherapy.

Still, visit the dermatologist every three months for regular skin checks. “I've been healthy,” she says, “I feel very lucky.”

Skin cancers are the most common cancer in the US and around the world, explains Marc Hurlbert, executive director of the Melanoma Research Alliance. “In the United States alone, there are more than two million cases of skin cancer,” he adds.

There are three types of skin cancer:

  1. Basal cell carcinoma
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma
  3. Melanoma

“Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas tend to stay on the surface of the skin and can be treated with surgery,” Hurlbert says. “Melanoma tends to invade the skin and can reach the blood and lymph node systems. “Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer,” she adds.

Performing skin checks, like Eilian did, can help people identify areas of the body that have changed.

“Knowing your own skin and what moles, freckles or other lesions you have and any new lumps or red spots you get (is important),” explains Hurlbert, “if it appears suddenly or if it changes over time, you should tell your doctor. primary”.

To identify moles or bumps that could be skin cancer, experts advise remembering the ABCDE. Your skin should be examined if you have any of these characteristics. ABCDE means:

  • TO: Asymmetrical, having an irregular shape
  • B: abnormal border
  • C: Color that varies depending on the mole, or is red, white or even blue.
  • D: Diameter that exceeds the size of a pencil eraser.
  • AND: It evolves, that is, it has changed.

You should also “take care of the ugly duckling in your skin,” he says. “If a (dot) stands out as having a particularly unusual appearance… be aware of that.” For example, Eilian's cancerous mole was much darker than the other moles on his body.

Melanomas are more common in “very light-skinned people,” who have red or blonde hair, or blue or green eyes, Hulbert says.

“Anyone of any race or ethnicity anywhere in the world can get melanoma,” he says, “we would really like to dispel the myth, for example, that black or darker colored people can't get melanoma, because they can.” .

Freckle, mole or melanoma

People can reduce their chances of developing skin cancer by protecting themselves from the sun. Experts recommend:

  • Use SPF 30 sunscreen daily and reapply it every two hours
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Avoid outdoor activities from 10 am to 4 pm when the sun is at its zenith
  • Wear UV protective clothing, such as sun shirts.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat outside
  • sit in the shade

“Sunburn and intense sun exposure increase the risk of developing melanoma later in life,” Hurlbert says, “It's a cumulative sun exposure. So, sunburns that he may have had as a child or teenager lead to an increased risk of melanoma when he is in his 40s, 50s, and 60s.”

If doctors detect melanoma in its early stages, stage 1 or 2, they can remove it with surgery without additional treatment.

“Once it becomes invasive, it's a fast-growing cancer,” says Hulbert, “We urge people to check their bodies again monthly.”

“If you have a more advanced case of melanoma, you will have surgery and probably immunotherapy, depending on what stage you are in and what type of melanoma you have,” Hurlbert says.

The first immunotherapy for cancer was approved in 2011 and many have been approved since then, he notes. Hurlbert says these treatments have been a game-changer.

“A diagnosis of metastatic melanoma was often a death sentence (before immunotherapy). Only about 10% of those people lived for five years,” she says. “Now, with immune therapies, more than 50% of them are still alive five years later.”

“She saved my life”

For nine months after her cancer treatment, Eilian felt worried about her health. She began cultivating healthy practices, such as dietary changes, exercise, and meditation.

“I felt very scared,” she says, “Feeling like I had some control over my own journey and my own outcomes… gave me a lot of comfort and was probably helpful in my recovery.”

Eilian is in remission and is aware of what having melanoma means for her in the future.

“When you have melanoma, it is one of the risk factors for diseases like breast cancer. …My grandmother had breast cancer and melanoma,” she states, “Overall, she has made me more aware of the need to be careful with my health.”

As an investor and entrepreneur, Eilian began investing in health and wellness companies that encourage people to be proactive with their health. Shortly after her diagnosis, Eilian joined the board of directors of the Alliance for Melanoma Research. She hopes her experience will encourage others to stand up for themselves and advocate for themselves.

“While I would never say I know as much about melanoma or dermatology as a doctor, I do know more about my own body than anyone else,” she says. “Be persistent and have confidence in yourself and your own observations,” he adds.

Eilian's daughters have started having skin checks with the dermatologist, and she will always be grateful that her two-year-old daughter said something about her mole. “I have to thank my daughter, who is now 15 years old,” she says: “She saved my life.”