Gel manicures have been the go-to way for us to keep our nails in check for the past few years. Before that, it was all done the old-fashioned way, with acrylics and nail polish. You can even purchase your very own UV nail kit so you can get a perfect mani without leaving the house. While it may seem like the best thing since sliced bread, Miss Illinois has warned that it's not all as great as it seems. According to Buzzfeed, Karolina Jasko fought and conquered melanoma when she was just 18 years old.
Karolina's cancer was discovered during a manicure when the nail tech spotted a black line on her right thumbnail. Concerned, the teen made an appointment with her doctor. After testing, it was confirmed that she had melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Luckily for Karolina and her family, the surgeons were able to remove it all by taking away her entire nail matrix. Now, she is left with a nail-less thumb, but it's a small price to pay. If the cancer wasn’t spotted when it was, it could've been an entirely different story.
Doctors told the future, Miss Illinois, that the cancer was most likely genetic, but that her frequent UV manicures could've accelerated its growth. Like many of us, Karolina had been getting her nails done for years before the illness was spotted. Doctors took skin from her groin area to graft onto her thumb, as well as taking biopsies from her chest, leaving her with scars that made her self-conscious. Several spots across her body were also removed as a precaution.
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Today is #worldcancerday which holds a special place in my heart. This post is a little personal but very important. Many people know and many don’t that four years ago I was diagnosed with melanoma and thanks to my wonderful doctors and support system I was able to fight it. Although it is something I still struggle with accepting, I have grown from it and want to take today to bring awareness to how deadly melanoma is and how important it is to take care of yourself. This is an experience that left me extremely vulnerable and was sensitive for me. Just a little over a year ago I wasn’t comfortable taking about it, let alone showing it. I hid my scars from the public by blurring out my chest and groin scars in photographs and even asking photographers to do the same. I hid my scars by wearing a bandaid on my thumb every time I went out in public. Becoming Miss Illinois USA allowed me to believe in myself and get the confidence I needed to accept who I am and still feel beautiful. It made me realize I need to stop hiding what happened to me and talk about it. We need to take care of ourselves and make sure we’re getting annual skin checkups with a dermatologist, applying sunscreen, and taking caution with UV rays. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully you can help share the message
Jasko spent the next couple of years feeling embarrassed and trying to hide her thumb with a Band-Aid, scared that people would find it off-putting. Thankfully, her Miss Illinois achievement has given her the confidence to use her platform to educate others about the dangers of gel manicures.
Most of us know the risks of tanning beds and too much sun exposure, but don't realize something as simple as getting your nails done can also be dangerous. Karolina's experience - albeit a nasty one for her - is spreading much-needed awareness on the subject.