Cancer. We hear the word all the time, whether for a fundraiser, to raise awareness, or because someone we know and care about is battling the disease itself. But for most of us, it’s something that happens to “someone else” – until that someone else happens to be us.
Such was the case for Kari Cummins, a pretty 35-year-old mother who lives in California, the sun capital of the West. Although Kari had urged her own mom to go get unusual symptoms looked at and treated in the past, like so many of us, when it came to taking her own advice, she wasn’t quite so compliant.
And after all, she’d been healthy all her life, with a peaches-and-cream complexion that many women would envy. But she couldn’t ignore a small mark on her chin when it refused to go away, especially because she’d never had a pimple in her life.
“I assumed it was a blackhead or a weird type of adult acne, as I hadn’t seen anything like that before,” Cummins said. But she did ultimately decide to seek a dermatologist’s help, and it turns out, it’s a really good thing she didn’t wait any longer.
Kari had both been exposed to a lot of sun growing up by a lake, and had had a slight tanning bed habit in her younger years. Instead of embracing her beautiful fair skin, she tried to keep up with others who were naturally darker, and that proved to be her nemesis.
The UV rays from both the sun itself, in her youth, and the tanning beds in her 20s had actually started to turn into a form of skin cancer, and that tiny, seemingly innocuous black spot on her chin was the very first sign of its presence.
“I had a few raised bumps and scabs on my face and so biopsies were taken. [And] that’s when I found out that they were potentially cancerous,” Kari noted.
It turned out the cells were squamous cell carcinoma, and like many cancers, it could have invaded critical organs had she not gone to the doctor when she did.
She was required to have both the chin spot and some small growths that had appeared on her forehead removed surgically. The forehead ones healed easily, but the surgeon’s gauge on her chin went almost down to the bone to make sure all metastatic tissue was removed.
To close it up, 35 stitches were required, ironically one for every year of Cummins’ life in the sun. It finally healed, and although it left a noticeable scar, Kari says she now uses any questions about it as a way to encourage others to also seek medical care in the same situation.
Because of a scar, you can live with. A heart or lungs, you cannot. Please see a doctor if you have any unexplained symptoms before it’s too late. Your life could be at stake.
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”