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Millie's personal story

Millie Reeves
Millie Reeves is a mother who enjoys life to the fullest and is 100% involved with her children in all that they do. Today she is a survivor of melanoma. 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness month and the first Monday in May has been given the name of Spot the Orange and Spot Melanoma Out of Your Life Day! This mom put together bright orange shirts with black ribbons for her as well as her two children to wear to school.

In February 2006 soon after she had been working for a dermatology doctor's office as a medical assistant. She had a routine skin cancer screening. All of the assistants underwent screenings and had the option of having moles biopsied so that they were able to tell their patients what to expect during a screening.

This mother really didn't expect anything to come back nor did the doctor. She had three biopsies, and five days later she came into work, a normal work day, and the doctor called her into the office and asked if she would like to have any family member present.

She took the news and was in complete shock. This mom was 27 years old and had stage 1 melanoma in her left arm as well as squamous cell carcinoma on her left chest area. It was crucial to schedule surgery immediately. She was sent to a plastic surgeon to undergo surgery she had to have a large area taken out of her arm.

With melanoma its important to get it all and that involves the surrounding layers of skin and margins. With the squamous cell she didn't have to have so much or so deep taken out and was left with scars to remind her every day how important life is and to make sure to continue having skin cancer screening.

It took several months to get on her feet after having several more biopsies some moles coming back as just atypical margins and that just to keep an eye on things and just two that came back cancerous.

The melanoma was by far the most serious. The hardest thing during her recovery was not being able to comfort her 3-year-old little girl, now 9 years old, and hold her in her arms because there was healing to take place where the surgeries had happened.

This mom wanted to hold her daughter and pick her up as long as she could but was unable to. It was a hard diagnosis to be given to her and the children.

This mother had just lost her father and her children's grandfather to AML leukemia in January 2006 and he was like a father figure to her and the children.

She has been a single mom for many years. Now she spends most of her time watching her children grow and her favorite thing about being a mom is being alive to watch them grow into such great young people.

She is a mother who teaches her children to want to give blood for people who have cancer as well as she enjoys being involved with the community and teaching her children to raise awareness and support all types of cancer—especially to the Leukemia Foundation—and help others realize the importance of having yearly skin cancer screenings.

Her two children proudly will help others with cancer before putting their needs first. Her 9-year-old daughter is Little Miss Texas and former Miss Killeen and enjoys being involved with any types of cancer retreats and has raised money for such things as Peaceable Kingdom, a cancer retreat camp for kids as well as leukemia society and being a part of cancer support groups.

Her 12-year-old son is currently raising money for leukemia as well. He is always teaming up to help make a difference in someone else's life. Skin cancer is not talked about often enough and it's important to spread the word.

This mother has taken care of melanoma patients as a CNA and dreams of someday going to school to become a pediatric oncology nurse and has seen patients die from it because it was left untreated. It can be such a small spot on your body and you may not realize it's anything. Seeing a dermatologist yearly can help prevent this cancer and getting it treated without it spreading.  The first sign of melanoma is often a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole. But melanoma can also appear on the body as a new mole. 

In men, melanoma most often shows up: 

  • on the upper body, between the shoulders and hips 

  • on the head and neck 

In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs.  In dark-skinned people, melanoma often appears: 

  • under the fingernails or toenails

  • on the palms of the hands 

  • on the soles of the feet 

Although these are the most common places on the body for melanomas to appear, they can appear anywhere on the skin. That's why it is important to always examine your skin to check for new moles or changes in moles.  With early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of recovery are very good.  The chance of getting melanoma increases as you get older, but people of any age can get melanoma. In fact, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults (ages 25 to 29). Each year, more than 50,000 people in the US learn that they have melanoma.  Melanoma is a serious and sometimes life-threatening cancer. If melanoma is found and treated in its early stages, the chances of recovery are very good. If it is not found early, melanoma can grow deeper into the skin and spread to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.  Once melanoma has spread to other parts of the body beyond the skin, it is difficult to treat.  So this is why this mother is a survivor who wants to raise awareness of this type of cancer! It's all about Preventing, Detect, and Live.