Science Care’s Team & Melanoma

Science Care’s Team & Melanoma

As we move into the summer months and spend more time outside enjoying the sunshine, it’s important to talk about taking care of our skin. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes, and even if it’s cloudy or overcast. 

Melanoma is the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States and is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The good news is that many types of skin cancer can be prevented and taking caution all year long is the first step. Read this article to learn more about protecting your skin this summer.

For Shaney Swank, a Lab Technician with Science Care, skin cancer is a very personal topic. At 27, Shaney was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma after finding a suspicious mark on her arm. During the height of COVID, it was difficult to get an appointment and the mole changed quickly. After the mole was removed, she learned that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and into her spine. 

“My experience with melanoma has been pretty horrendous,” Shaney said. “I’ve gone through four different types of treatments over the past three years and the side effects have been the most brutal part. This isn’t something I would want anyone else to go through.”

Before her diagnosis, Shaney was a frequent sunscreen user but recalls many sunburns during her lifetime. During her childhood years, she spent a lot of time outdoors and loved being at the pool. 

During her treatment over the past few years, Shaney has had nearly 100 doctor’s office visits, 9 emergency room visits, 15 days admitted in the hospital, 6 surgeries, 8 biopsies, more than 300 blood tests, nearly 20 IV chemotherapy treatments, 11 MRIs, 11 CT scans, 7 EKG, ECG tests, 3 PETSCANs and 5 X-rays.

“Melanoma can have a reputation as being just skin cancer, but people don’t always realize the battle melanoma warriors face on the road to recovery,” Shaney said. “Having stage four skin cancer has been absolutely life changing and I wish I had gotten my skin checked sooner.”

Our skin is the largest organ on our bodies, and it’s so important to be sure we’re taking good care of it. Over the course of her journey, Shaney has collected a few tips and tricks for looking after your skin: 

  • If you like to wear makeup, consider a tinted SPF of 50 or higher to keep your face protected every day. Don’t forget that your lips need protection too – many brands offer a lip balm with SPF included to make sure you’re covered. 
  • Apply your sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and keep an eye on the clock to reapply as necessary. Many people remember sunscreen, but forget many brands require you reapply every hour or so when in direct sun exposure. 
  • Accessorize for protection! There are many options on the market to protect your skin, including UV protected clothing, swimsuits, sunglasses and hats. 
  • It’s important to be thoughtful of your every day. Sun exposure happens even when we’re indoors, driving in our cars or sitting in the shade. 
  • Check your skin monthly and snap a photo if you have a mole that seems a little strange. Use this photo as a reference during your next monthly check and when in doubt, make an appointment to get it checked.
  • Find a dermatologist and have your entire body checked once a year. Skin cancer is highly treatable if you catch it early, and preventative checks are a great way to make sure you’re covered. 

Shaney has been a member of the Science Care team since 2020, claiming the team has been an incredible support to her during this challenging season. Her grandfather became a Science Care donor in 2023, and she’s always advocating for her friends and family to consider the gift of donation.

“Cancer has helped me realize the impact of medicine and medical research,” Shaney said. “From researchers who make medication and the doctors and nurses providing treatment to the patients participating in clinical trials to improve medicine and body donors like those at Science Care – it’s all such a gift to expand knowledge and research for future generations. The whole experience makes me so proud of what we do at Science Care.”

Despite the challenges she has faced during her battle with Melanoma, Shaney has a smile on her face and fights each day in her own battle and in raising awareness to help prevent others from having to endure what she has.

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