Pregnancy can do some crazy things to your, well...everything! In my case, I break out like a teenager! Hormonal acne for days! But, I'm not here today to talk about that kind of skincare. I want to address the special care that needs to be taken to your changing body with regard to skin cancer. As you probably know, skin cancer and I go way back. ;) Over the years I've come to learn a thing or two about protecting yourself and think it is my duty as a survivor to spread a tiny bit of awareness.
In no real order, here are a few tips...
communicate with your oncologist (if you have one) || Prior to trying to conceive, Kyle and I sat down with my oncologist and did a little family planning. (Romantic, right?) We told him we were thinking of starting a family and wanted to know what that would mean for my cancer care. He told us that as far as my cancer was concerned, there was no reason I couldn't or shouldn't become pregnant. Our next question was, how can we continue my follow up care throughout pregnancy? A bunch of medical mumbo jumbo later, he sent us to have a baseline ultrasound of my neck. This meant that in the event of me being pregnant when a schedule scan rolled around, I still had a way to get images without posing any threat to baby. So, long story short, talk to your oncologist! You don't necessarily have to press pause on your cancer care just because you are pregnant.
stretching || And I'm not talking about yoga here! Your skin, does a lot of stretching during pregnancy. It's no secret that I personally, don't do pregnancy small, by that I mean I tend to expand. A lot. Like 50 lbs a lot! During my first pregnancy, I noticed a mole on my hip start growing larger and even a bit red. Off to the dermatologist I went! Turns out the mole was ok, it just had a big ol' stretch mark running right through it. (Thanks Mallory!) My hope with this point here is to offer a bit of peace if you are worried, but also encourage you to keep an eye on your skin as well as an open dialogue with your physicians. (Namely your OB, dermatologist and oncologist.)
derm appointments || It is important to not only let your dermatologist know you are pregnant, but also to see your dermatologist at least once during your pregnancy. Pregnancy can be the cause of some pretty gnarly skin changes : acne, hyper pigmentation, skin tags, etc. Most of these changes are completely harmless, however, it is important to note that a large number of women diagnosed with melanoma are of child bearing age. So, if you don't already have one, find a good dermatologist and schedule an appointment. Have a professional take a peak and make sure all of your skin changes are normal and healthy.
protect your skin || Especially during pregnancy, it's sooooo important to maintain excellent sun safety practices. Your skin is more sensitive thanks to an altered immune system and hyper active melanocytes (pigment producing cells.) I give tons of sun safety tips in this post, but at the very least, choose a broad spectrum sunscreen and wear protective clothing. Your beautiful skin will thank you for it. :)
* Just as an aside, make sure you check the ingredients in your skin care products! Many ingredients commonly found in our skin care products aren't advised for use during pregnancy. (For example, Salycilic Acid) Make sure you check with your doctor.
Have you run into any skin issues during your pregnancy?