On The Real Housewives of Orange County, you faced a serious health
threat. What happened?
My doctor found a malignant mole -- a shallow melanoma in early stages -- on
my thigh, a few inches above my knee. I've faced skin cancer before, but I
never intended to share this "reality" on the show. Now, I'm glad I
did. Since the show has aired, several people have told me they've gotten their
skin checked because of me -- and it thrills me to hear it.
All potentially cancerous skin growths must be biopsied to confirm a cancer diagnosis. Depending on the suspected type of skin cancer, the biopsy techniques vary slightly but crucially.
Any potential melanoma requires a surgical biopsy, in which the entire growth is removed with a scalpel if possible. A pathologist then studies the sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present.
If melanoma is diagnosed, other tests may be ordered to assess the degree of cancer spread (metastasis)...
At age 27 -- 17 years ago. I went in for acne treatments and my doctor
gasped. He removed 22 moles from my body. He tested them all, and one came back
Were you a sun worshipper when you were young?
I got a tremendous amount of sun exposure as a child. All the damage was
done before I was 25.
You write on your Bravo blog that you had an eye sewn shut for two
months after half of your lower eyelid was removed due to skin cancer. Tell us
about this experience.
I had a tiny tumor near my tear duct. It was not malignant, but I still tell
everyone: Wear sunglasses! Make sure your children wear sunglasses! Protect
How much has changed in the last two decades, in terms of prevention
and treatment of skin cancers?
Not enough. It will take someone like Brad Pitt getting melanoma to get the
kind of funding needed to get the research done that this cancer needs.
Any advice for other mothers trying to keep their families safe from
When my kids were little, it wasn't hard keeping them covered up. Now they
want to be at the beach with their friends -- and not look dorky in long
sleeves. But there are companies that make cute clothes that have sunscreen
built into the fabrics. Also, be creative. Don't tell your teenager she can't
go to the beach. Instead, plan an indoor activity for her and her friends --
like going to a cool sushi bar or a museum -- then take them to the beach after
4 p.m. Watch the sunset together.