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Skin cancer survivors urge others to check suspicious moles

Posted at 8:43 AM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 11:07:23-04

WACO, TX — Sara Threadgill, a China Spring native and former KXXV anchor and reporter from 2005-2010, got the scare of her life in 2014 when she was having her first son. Her mom noticed Threadgill had a spot on the bottom of her foot and suggested she get it checked out.

"As I’m laying the hospital bed I had my feet propped up, and my mom was sitting behind and said you have a spot on the bottom of your foot. You need to go get that checked out," Threadgill said. “The doctor took it off, tested it, and it came back severely dysplastic, which means that’s the level just before it turns into skin cancer, of my foot, and it’s not a little cut—they take a good chunk of skin out of your foot and sew it back together.”

Threadgill had another scare a few months after her first, only this time the spot was in the middle of her back.

"The pathologist, said it was so close to being melanoma it was almost there, so the pathologist recommended taking out a larger chunk than they otherwise would do. So, I am so thankful I went back in because had I wanted until my next year appointment I probably would have melanoma," Threadgill said.

Another Central Texan, Deanna Starling of Waco, was diagnosed with Melanoma in 2011.

"I had found a spot on my chest that had never been there before and thought it looked bizarre. I showed my husband, and just kind of contemplated just what it could be—not really knowing how seriously it could have ended up," Starling said. "The word cancer is scary in itself. And when you get a diagnosis of getting cancer, your brain automatically goes to the worst possible outcome imaginable."

Starling said doctors removed a pre-malignancy removed last February, and all margins were cleared. She'll go back to her doctors in August to celebrate being 8 years cancer free.

She'll be considered in the clear after 10 years of being cancer free.

Threadgill's latest check-up came up okay, and Starling has been cancer-free for seven years. She'll be considered in the clear after ten years.

Sara Threadgill says she's had no new concerning spots since last summer, and still has her regular check ups.

Both Threadgill and Starling have three things in common. First, they both love spending time in the sun. Second, they're both dark pigmented, and third, they both have a family history of skin cancer.

Threadgill and Starling have a plea for all of us after their respective skin cancer experiences.

"It's so important to get in and just let the doctor check you over really quick, and if something is a little off, or has grown or has changed, don’t hesitate to go back in. It could save your life," Threadgill said.

“Know your family’s heritage, know your background, and know your lineage," Starling said.

Waco board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rusty Rowe said spotting suspicious moles can be as easy as the "ABCs."

“I educate all of my patients about the 'ABCs.' If a mole is asymmetric, meaning, if both sides don’t look normal like a nice, round mole, that’s a concern, so that’s the A, asymmetry. B is borders if it’s an irregularly shaped border then we have a concern. If it has colors—C is colors – multiple colors inside of a mole that’s bad. That needs to be looked at, so you may have a nice, tan mole that just starts to develop black spots inside of it, red spots, those are a concern. D is diameter. Diameter is 6 cm or the size of a pencil eraser is the easiest to think of, so if the mole is enlarging that’s another concern, and then the last one, E is evolving, so if you’ve had a mole and it’s just always looked the same and then all of a sudden it looks different, that’s a concern. So, the ABCDE is an easy way to think about it," Dr. Rowe said.

He adds melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, which kills around 9,000 people per year. He stresses anybody can get it, that affects 1-in-100,000 African-Americans, as well as 4-in-100,000 Hispanics.