FRIDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Meghan Rothschild loved her tan.
Normally fair-skinned and with red hair, Rothschild admits her compulsion to get a perfect tan was driven by "pure vanity."
"I hated being pale," said Rothschild, now 27 and living in Northampton, Mass. "I hated having a fair complexion. I thought I looked better in clothes and thought I looked slimmer" when tan.
As a result, she said, she hit the tanning booths at least once a week starting at age 17, often sneaking to avoid detection by her mom. "My mother didn't like me in the tanning booth," Rothschild said. "She didn't believe they were safe. She knew sunburns weren't good for your skin. I wouldn't tell her where I was going and what I was doing."
Away at college and 20 years old, Rothschild kept up her tanning regimen but noticed a mole that seemed odd. "A mole located on my abdomen had started to get really, really dark, and it also started to itch," she said.
While home during the school's winter break in 2003, Rothschild had a regular checkup with her doctor and asked about the mole. She said the doctor shrugged off the mole, saying it looked normal and not to worry about it. But Rothschild insisted on having it removed anyway, so she got a referral to a plastic surgeon who removed the mole a couple of weeks later and sent it off for examination.
She returned to the surgeon a week later to have the stitches removed. She went by herself because she'd had stitches removed before and didn't think she'd need any help. But the doctor thought otherwise.
"The doctor was upset I was here by myself," she said. "He kept asking . . . if there was anyone he could get to come be with me."
But finally he broke the news: The mole had come back cancerous. Rothschild had stage 2 melanoma.
The doctor plunged ahead. She would have to undergo major surgery. She would have to have a large sectio
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