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Doty’s personal story

Doty Henderson
It was summer of 1991. I had an 18-month-old daughter. I had noticed a small but very dark mole on the back of my left upper arm. I saw that it was very noticeable in a photo on me as I was watching my daughter play on the beach, ironically.

I also had discovered a mass in my breast, so I went to my OB/GYN to check it out. I showed him my moles that I was concerned about. He knows me very well and referred me to a general surgeon because he knew how much these things would bother me if I didn't have them evaluated. However, when he looked at the back of my arm, he said, "That mole is a little dark, but I don't think it's melanoma."

I went to the surgeon a couple of weeks later. He checked the mass and the moles—except one. All my other concerns seemed to be OK. I was about to leave without having the black mole checked out, but something told me to show it to him. His words were the same: "I don't think it's melanoma." He did feel it needed to come off.

A week later, I got a call saying that I had stage I melanoma. Two weeks later, I was in the OR having a wide excision of the area where the mole had been, plus six other benign moles removed.

I am one of the lucky ones. My story had a happy ending. My first cousin was not.

Two years later, he was diagnosed with a stage IV melanoma. He battled the horrible disease for five years. He lost his brave fight in November 1998. He left behind a wife and two small children, not to mention the rest of his family.