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Arizona woman is on a mission to educate others about skin cancer

By Erin Goff  |  Posted Oct 21st, 2016 @ 8:42pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Owner of Project Life and entrepreneur Becky Higgins is in the business of helping people preserve their memories.

She's now using her voice to warn others to be proactive when it comes to their bodies, especially melanoma — the most aggressive form of skin cancer.

" (I) kind of love my scar because it shows proactivity," Higgins said. "It shows self-confidence. It shows (I) take care of yourself."

While on vacation in Hawaii this summer, Higgins began to question the looks of a little mole above her knee. "I kept looking at this spot on my knee, going I don't like that. I'm going to get it checked out," she said. "It was totally that nagging feeling, that's the best way to put it."

Higgins made an appointment to get it checked as soon as she got home. During Higgins appointment she directed the physician's assistant to the troubling mole. "When he kind of went past that, I brought him right back and I just said, 'I'm really concerned about this more than anything else,'" she said.

A biopsy confirmed her suspicions. "I had melanoma in situ, and melanoma is in all these different stages as are any cancers. In situ means it's stage 0, so it's melanoma absolutely, but it hadn't gotten beyond the surface of my skin," said Higgins.

A plastic surgeon then removed the cancer, going wide and deep, making sure to catch all the cancer cells. He also removed another suspicious spot on her inner thigh. Higgins said, "I don't care how big my scar is, I don't care. I don't want cancer." Surprisingly, her story is not that unusual.

Dermatologist Lana Pho with McKay-Dee Dermatology said the majority of melanomas are found by the patients themselves, and "The key to surviving this deadly disease is early detection."

"The early melanomas, which have not spread to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent," Pho said.

So what are you looking for? Dr. Pho talks about the ABCDEs, which are the key characteristics used by dermatologists to classify melanomas.

A stands for asymmetry, when a lesion doesn't have a perfect symmetry; B stands for border, if the edges of the mole are irregular; C stands for color, if there's more than one color in the mole; D stands for diameter, if the size is greater than the size of a pencil eraser head and E stands for evolving, changing in any way.

Higgins' mole was asymmetrical, it had an uneven boarder and it had been changing. She's now on constant "mole patrol" and warning others about early detection.

"You have to pay attention to those feelings and those promptings because it's real," Higgins said.

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