This mom of two is on a mission to warn people about the realities of skin cancer with a shocking photo diary documenting her battle with melanoma.
Bethany Gambardella-Greenway, 39, from Austin, Texas discovered a dark spot on her skin while she was pregnant with her youngest child in 2015. She ignored it in the belief that it was something to do with hormonal changes, and when she finally got it checked out, the dermatologist reassured her that it was nothing more than a liver spot. 18 months later however, a painful mole appeared and a biopsy revealed that it was in fact an aggressive form of skin cancer called desmoplastic melanoma. Doctors removed the mole, but after learning that the cancer had spread to her bones and lymph nodes, she started immunotherapy in October 2016.
“The radiation was absolutely the worst part. It was hell plain and simple,” she said. “It fried the inside of my mouth. My throat was so sore. My skin was covered in sores, I lost my ability to taste food, my voice was hoarse, at about week three my hair began to fall out on the treated area. By the time I was done with treatment I had lost about forty pounds because eating had become such a miserable chore. Now I am almost completely healed from the radiation which permanently damaged one saliva gland and altered my hairline.”
Bethany said she wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis because her mother also had melanoma at the same age, and even though she’s finished her treatment and is now in the all-clear, she’s encouraging other people to wear sunscreen so they don’t have to go through the same awful experience that she did. “Please stop sun bathing and going to tanning salons,” she says. “A tan isn’t a healthy glow — it’s damaged skin.” Wise words that everybody should pay attention to. One of the photographs we previously used was incorrectly labelled as depicting Bethany in hospital for the birth of her second child. This picture was actually taken when Bethany was in hospital having her appendix removed. Also, we’d just like to clarify that Bethany has never been a tanner and was always careful in the sun. Her story serves as a cautionary reminder for everybody, regardless of whether they like to sunbathe or not.
This mom of two is on a mission to warn people about the realities of skin cancer.