Three-time cancer survivor on her surprise melanoma diagnosis

Kansas

WICHITA (KSNT) — Routine annual physicals have caught three different cancers in 55-year-old Lisa Brown’s life.

Each cancer was considered a “primary cancer” meaning it was unrelated to her other diagnoses.

In 2011, Brown went to her family doctor for her physical, where the physician discovered a hidden melanoma. Brown had no pain or symptoms.

Lisa Brown at an ACS Relay for Life

“Given the fact that the melanoma that I had was not a place where the sun was exposed to, I think that’s what the big shock was,” Brown tells KSN.

Her doctor reviewed her medical notes from the previous year and confirmed Brown had no prior signs of melanoma.

A biopsy confirmed the skin cancer diagnosis. The quarter-sized spot was moving quickly and aggressively.

Within three weeks, Brown had surgery to have the melanoma removed. Because it was caught in an early stage, no chemotherapy or radiation was necessary.

“My family doctor told me after he examined me that if I had chosen to skip my physical that year, that by that time the next year, my children would have been without a mother,” the mother of three said.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), in 2021 alone, an estimated 106,110 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed and over 7,000 people are expected to die of the cancer.

Lisa Brown and family

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, but certain preventive measures can limit exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. For example, Brown uses SPF 100 sunscreen and avoids the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV rays are the strongest.

The best way to detect skin cancer early is to be aware of your own body. Any new or changing skin growths, lesions, or a progressive change in a lesion’s appearance (size, shape, or color) should be checked immediately.

Also, an important step in prevention: maintaining annual physicals. That’s where Brown’s melanoma, breast cancer, and leukemia were all identified.

“In all of the cancers that I’ve had, early detection has saved my life every single time,” Brown said.

Now fully in remission of all her cancers, Brown enjoyed celebrating her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband and loves her role as mom and grandmother.

“If your body is telling you that something’s not right, it probably isn’t,” Brown said.

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