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Rachel Maddow says she had surgery for skin cancer after partner saw change in mole

Maddow was hesitant to believe anything was wrong, but at her partner's urging, she finally saw a dermatologist.
/ Source: TODAY

Rachel Maddow is sharing an important message with her viewers after she had her own experience with skin cancer.

The MSNBC host recalled during a recent episode of "The Rachel Maddow Show" that she was at a minor league baseball game with her partner, Susan Mikula, who noticed at the time that a mole on Maddow's neck had "changed."

"I had no idea what she was talking about," Maddow recalled.

She tried to brush it off, joking that Mikula just hadn't noticed the mole before because it was on Maddow's left side and Maddow is the one who drives, so Mikula's used to sitting on her right. Maddow also speculated that the change in appearance could've been due to a "mosquito bite or sunburn or something."

But Mikula was steadfast, insisting, "We've been together 22 years. That mole has changed," Maddow said. Mikula then suggested Maddow ask her hair stylist, Diane, whom she's seen for two decades.

"(Diane) said immediately, 'Yes, I was going to say something about it myself. That mole has changed.'"

Maddow decided to have a checkup with a dermatologist, who did a biopsy and discovered it was skin cancer. She had surgery at a hospital in New York City, and "they got all of it," she said. Maddow was off from work for a few days and now has to have regular checks to prevent the cancer from coming back.

"Susan was right, like she always is. I am going to be absolutely fine," she added.

Maddow went on to stress to viewers the importance of getting moles checked. While skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world, 99% of cases are treatable if they're caught early, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

"Schedule a check now with your doctor," she said. "Then when your doctor tells you you're fine, but you should do this every year, put it in the calendar in your phone for a year from now and then actually come back and do that follow-up appointment.

"It's only by the grace of Susan that I found mine in enough time that it was totally treatable because I have been blowing off my appointments forever to get stuff like that checked because I've assumed it will always be fine."

For viewers who may be intimidated by the idea of getting their moles checked, Maddow described it as "the easiest doctor's appointment in the world."

"They just look you all over and go ... 'Let me measure. Yeah, still looks the same as last time. Yep.' They don't even do anything that hurts when they check you over. It's the doctor's appointment equivalent of getting your car inspected," she explained.

"The deadliest forms of skin cancer would love to try to kill you if you don't catch them and they get to run wild," she concluded. "But if you get even those worst kinds of skin cancer early, which is the easiest thing in the world as far as doctor's visits go, if you get it early, you can murder it instead of it murdering you."