Former reporter found skin cancer during story, warns others - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Former reporter found skin cancer during story, warns others

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

It is a growing epidemic affecting teenagers and young adults at an alarming rate.  In fact more than a million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year alone.

For Charlotte resident Claire Hosmann, it started with a news story.  Exactly one year ago at the age of 26, Claire was a reporter in Wilmington.  She was doing a story about Melanoma Awareness Month when she got the shock of a lifetime.

"We were doing a live shoot at the beach and I had a dermatologist out there, as well as several lifeguards.  We were having them checked out on-air, just to show people how quick it is to get your skin checked.  During a commercial break I had the doctor check me out, Hosmann explains. "She found a mole that I had my whole life and thought nothing of."

The dermatologist was able to biopsy the mole a few days later and then the results came back.

"She called me the next day and said I have some bad news. It is Melanoma," said Hosmann.  "I was shocked; I burst into tears and I'm not a crier. I'm usually pretty strong emotionally, but I couldn't believe it."

Two days later Claire was in surgery to have the cancer removed.

"The pain was bad. On a scale from one to ten, it was an eight."

Claire still has a very visible reminder of her cancer.  Although the mole on her shoulder was extremely tiny, the scar covers nearly the entire surface.  She explained that moles don't always look big on the surface of the skin, but the cancer spreads far into the skin.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and if you think you won't get it, think again. According to the American Melanoma Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will get some form of skin cancer in their lives. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 29 and the biggest culprit is tanning beds.

Hosmann says, although she did use tanning beds as a teenager, she also grew up in Southern Florida and spent a lot of time in the sun.

"Being in the sun is the lifestyle down there.  It is sunny all year long and being tan was my goal every summer."

Charlotte dermatologist, Richard White, says some people are more susceptible to getting skin cancer.

"People who have fair skin, green eyes, light eyes, blonde hair, have a lot of sun exposure, and a family history are at a special risk," explained White.

However, Hosmann is proof that it can happen to anyone.

"I'm South American, so being tan is just how my family is.  Nobody ever wore sunscreen."

Dr. White had some advice for people who fall into the high risk category.

"Check yourself once a month.  Look in the mirror and check your skin.  See if there are any changes."

Claire was lucky that her cancer was caught early before it spread.  The cancer was eradicated with surgery, but preventing it from coming back will be a life-long challenge.

"I wear sunscreen every day, even if I'm not planning on staying outside for long.  When I plan a day outdoors, I avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I wear plenty of layers," said Hosmann.

Claire is no longer a journalist by trade, but in a way, she still makes it her mission to get the word out about skin cancer.  Her scar is a constant reminder not to let it come back.

"It is the only cancer that is probably 100 percent preventable, and if it comes back, it is nobody's fault but my own."

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