ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Summertime in Alaska is something many look forward to, but with the extended daylight, also comes the risk of exposing your skin to the sun's radiation. In this week's two your health a woman shares her story of how time eventually caught up with her.
Amy Frackman was diagnosed with skin cancer 3 different times.
Working out at the YMCA is typical for Amy Frackman. A quick warm-up on the treadmill, some core exercises and then she hit the free weights.
"It's a place for me to kind of balance myself and have a good workout," said Frackman.
It's also a place for protection.
"A lot of people give me a hard time because, with as beautiful as the weather has been instead of walking outside, I'm here walking on the treadmill for an hour," she said.
Her reasoning for working out inside has every bit to do with outside. Frackman grew up in Alaska and like many, remembers spending time in places like Hawaii and soaking up the sun.
"Everybody would burn the first day. I can remember spending a whole morning on a surfboard and the skin peeling off the next few days and I didn't think anything of it," she said.
That is until three summers ago after she noticed a change in her skin.
"Mine were not like moles, mine were like sores and they would sort of go away and come back," said Frackman.
Dermatologist and MOHS Surgeon, Peter Ehrnstrom said your risk for skin cancer is based on sun exposure throughout your life. The 3 most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
"If you got your suntan on Monday and got your skin cancer on Tuesday, most of us would stop this behavior," said Dr. Ehrnstrom.
Frackman's had 3 separate biopsies done, all of which came back cancerous. While not life-threatening, it was enough to get her attention.
"If somebody were to say that they were going to carve these holes in my face and somebody were to go back and airdrop me some photos I think I would have really reconsidered and taken it a lot more seriously," she said.
Dr. Ehrnstrom said being outside is a part of life, but when it comes to protecting your skin, prevention is key.
"What you want to do is to figure out what activities you want to do when you want to do them, how you want to be dressed when doing those activities and then some SPF in some of those areas that you can't otherwise cover-up," he said.
Frackman ended her session at the gym and can't change her past, but she can do something about her future.
Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancer. 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with it at some point in their life. Melanoma is not as common but is much more lethal with one death per hour in the U.S.
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