Reality TV star and new mom Ashley Wirkus is opening up about her recent skin cancer diagnosis with hope that she'll inspire fans to get screenings themselves.
The "Summer House" star took to Instagram on Tuesday with a photo of her cradling her newborn son, Dean. In her candid caption, the lifestyle blogger, 30, told fans the pic was taken right after she had surgery to remove a mole on her back that was diagnosed as malignant melanoma.
"This is me on Friday resting after having a surgery to remove the skin cancer (Malignant Melanoma) on my back. Just as I have shared my pregnancy shingles, I feel it’s important to share what I have been going through the past 7 weeks with becoming a mom and now this," Wirkus wrote.
Three weeks ago, as she was adjusting to the "roller coaster" of new motherhood, Wirkus went for a routine annual skin check at her dermatologist's office.
The doctor noticed a suspicious mole on Wirkus' back and had it biopsied.
"I thought nothing of it as I am naturally a very ‘moley’ person and go to the dermatologist regularly with the many past biopsies being normal," the new mom shared.
A week later, Wirkus got the news that the mole was a melanoma.
"I had surgery to remove an area of skin on my back on Friday and should have the final results soon. I will share my next visit when I see the doctor in 2 weeks," she wrote.
"I naturally love the outdoors and have always worn sunscreen, hats, sunglasses but it was still not enough. I now will have to be even more cautious when I am in the sun," she wrote.
She ended her post by urging fans to "get your skin checked."
"Most annual visits are covered by insurance and now I will be going multiple times a year to stay safe!" she wrote.
How to detect melanoma in your skin
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an evolving or changing mole can be a symptom of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body and it can be deadly. However, when found early enough, melanoma is highly treatable.
Experts advise everyone to learn the ABCDEs of melanoma:
- A= Asymmetry: Is one half of the mole, or spot, unlike the other half?
- B= Border: Does it have an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border?
- C= Color: Does its color vary from one area to another?
- D= Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (or the size of a pencil eraser) but they can be smaller.
- E= Evolution: Does it look different from other ones on your skin? Is it changing in size, shape or color?
If you notice a mole or spot on your skin that changes, itches or bleeds, make an appointment with a dermatologist right away.