Skin Cancer Awareness Month: A Melanoma Survivor’s Tale

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Kerrie Taber was going on a cruise in a couple months and wanted a skin tag removed before the trip.

But, a simple procedure at the doctor turned out to be more than she bargained for.

“The doctor called me in and told me I had melanoma, which was really shocking because when he removed it, he said it was probably nothing,” Taber said.

It had progressed to stage II melanoma. Less than one week after the diagnosis, Taber underwent surgery to have the cancer removed from her back. In this case, Taber was lucky enough not to have to get treatment.

On April 20, 2018, Taber hit the six-year mark since her diagnosis; however, the way she lives her life has changed.

“I have to pay attention to things I probably wouldn't have ever thought about,” Taber said.

Taber also says she has had to visit an oncologist or dermatologist once every three months.

During this process, Taber said she has learned a lot about the dangers of skin cancer and the preventative steps you can take.

5NEWS talked with Dr. Sandy Johnson of Johnson Dermatology about the importance of skin cancer screenings.

Dr. Johnson advises people to get a screening by a dermatologist once every year. According to her, they typically should only take around 15 minutes to complete.

She also says to do a self, skin-exam once per month to look out for skin irregularities.

“Think of your skin as the starry sky at night. You know, when you look up at the sky all the stars kind of blend in pretty, and then the moon stands out as different. The moon is the spot that needs to be checked,” said Dr. Johnson.

In light of May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, on May 14, there are chances for people to get screened from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Dr. Sandy Johnson with Johnson Dermatology.

There’s also a lunch and informational session on skin cancer from 12 p.m. to  1 p.m.