Karolina Jasko was a high school senior when, while getting her nails done, she saw a black line running down her right thumbnail.She had been getting acrylic nails applied once or twice a month on top of her real nails that were cured with ultraviolet (UV) light, but never noticed any marks before that day in December 2016.At first, she brushed it off as bruise but, one week later, when her finger began swelling and turning red, she went to her doctor in Chicago, Illinois.After being referred to a dermatologist, and having a biopsy done, Jasko learned that the dark line on her nail was actually melanoma, or skin cancer.Jasko, now 21, who competed in the 2018 Miss USA pageant as Miss Illinois, told DailyMail.com that she had to have her entire thumbnail removed and was so ashamed of it that she covered it with a Band-Aid for nearly a year.Karolina Jasko, 21 (left and right), from Chicago, Illinois, first saw a black line running down her thumbnail during a nail appointment in December 2016. However, she and the nail tech brushed it off as a bruise One week later, when Jasko’s finger began swelling and turning red (pictured), she visited the physician, fearing she had contracted an infection from the Nail Salon Jasko didn’t see the line on her nail until that appointment at the Nail Salon when the nail tech began applying her new acrylic nail.’We kind of both just brushed it off, and thought it was a bruise,’ she said. ‘A few days later, my finger swelled up really bad and I automatically thought I got some sort of infection from the Nail Salon.’Jasko’s mom helped her take her acrylic nail off, and that’s when Jasko remembered it was the same thumb that had a dark line down the center.She booked an appointment with her primary care doctor, who said the dark pigmentation could be a sign of skin cancer.That same day, Jasko went to the dermatologist referred to her by her doctor, who ordered a biopsy.Within a few days the results came back: the 18-year-old had skin cancer.  Nail melanoma, or subungual melanoma, is a cancer that occurs in the tissues of the nail bed.  These melanomas are most commonly found on either the thumbs or big toes, but they can form on any fingernail or toenail.Symptoms include a vertical band on the nail that’s a different color than the nail, dark pigmentation that covers the nail, nail brittleness, and bleeding where the pigmentation is.  Jasko was diagnosed with nail melanoma, or subungual melanoma, is a cancer that occurs in the tissues of the nail bed. Pictured: Jasko’s thumb after surgery  to remove the nail matrixThe cancer is often difficult to diagnose because the melanomas have similar characteristics to a bruise or a fungal infection. Doctors don’t know what causes subungual melanoma, but it is known that UV exposure can accelerate its growth. Subungual melanoma accounts for less than five percent of all melanomas.While melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers, the five-year survival rate from diagnosis for localized, early melanoma is more than 98 percent.  Jasko said that while she was nervous, her mom was even more so because she had battled melanoma twice before: once on her thigh and once on her right buttock.’She had been through it and now she was terrified having to watch her daughter go through it,’ Jasko said. 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.He couldn’t determine, however, where the infection that had caused her finger to swell came from, only that it was unrelated to her melanoma.’He said to take it as sign from God,’ Jasko said. ‘And I do because if I hadn’t gotten the infection, I wouldn’t have gotten to go get [my finger] checked out.’A few weeks later, Jasko underwent surgery to remove the entire nail matrix so that the melanoma wouldn’t return. Jasko (pictured) had surgery to remove the whole nail matrix and had a skin graft taking from her groin area to cover the area where her nail used to beFor months, Jasko (left and right) said she was ashamed of her missing nail and used to cover it with a Band-Aid. Now, she says she is no longer ashamed and wants other girls to not be ashamed of scars or moles they have Doctors took a skin graft from her groin area to cover the area of her thumb where her nail used to be.Jasko said that for months after the surgery, she was self-conscious about her lack of a nail and covered it with a Band-Aid.’I was in high school at the time and looks are a big deal so, thinking back it was silly, but at the time it was really stressful,’ she said.’I thought everyone was going to be staring and it took a long time to get comfortable with it. Now people say: “Oh I wouldn’t have even known if you didn’t tell me you didn’t have a nail”.’After the surgery, Jasko had several moles removed on her body as a precaution or because they were precancerous.’I want girls to know it’s okay to have a scar or a mole,’ she said. ‘For a long time, I thought my scars defined me. But, as insecure as I was, I still went on to compete as Miss Illinois.’Jasko, currently a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said she still goes to the Nail Salon and gets her nails done, but she doesn’t do UV manicures, choosing to stick to classic nail polish or dip powder.She says she wants to use her platform to advocate for skin cancer awareness and prevention. ‘You can’t help your genetics, but you can do a lot to prevent health issues,’ he said.’Take safety precautions, wear sunblock, and if you gets your nails done, try to avoid UV rays. Dipping powder is a great alternative.’
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