When former Miss Illinois, Karolina Jasko, found herself with what she thought was an infected thumbnail, she went to her doctor to get it checked out and possibly saved her thumb – and maybe her life.
She made the discovery in 2016 while getting her usual acrylic nails applied when her technician pointed out a strange mark she initially thought was a bruise, Fox29 reports.
“A few days later, my finger swelled up really bad, and I automatically thought I had some sort of infection from the nail salon,” she told the Daily Mail.
This reaction triggered Karolina to visit a dermatologist, who insisted she have a biopsy on the marking, a thin line that ran from the top to the bottom of her nail.
The procedure concluded she had subungual melanoma, which is a cancer found in the tissue of the nail bed. This melanoma is usually found on thumbs or big toes, but they can form on any fingernail or toenail.
Her doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago told Jasko that her melanoma was likely genetic, but that that the UV light she was exposed to while getting acrylic nails could have affected its growth. Jasko underwent surgery a few weeks later to remove her nail and some of the skin under it – a skin graft was taken from her thigh to replace it – to ensure the melanoma wouldn’t return.
Jasko told the Daily Mail that at the time she was self-conscious about not having a nail, but now she wants to use her platform to warn people about the dangers of melanoma.
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