Survivor Stories

Holly McGuire, Stage I

Diagnosed 06/11/2013

My name is Holly McGuire. I am 28 years old, and I was diagnosed with Stage Ib melanoma on June 11, 2013.

I am a natural blonde and was never able to “get a tan.” When I was younger, my mom was always really good about making sure my sister and I had sunscreen on before swimming or going outside. As I got older, I stopped worrying about getting sunburned so much because being tan was the cool thing for girls my age. I went to a tanning salon no more than 10 times before I finally just accepted that I would never have a “healthy glow.”

Fast forward to 2 years ago. I starting paying more attention to my body and lost almost 70 lbs. A mole I had on the back of my shoulder finally started to bother me. It was large, probably the size of a dime, and darker than the rest of the moles and freckles on my body (I have many). It had been there my whole life, but I had a gut feeling that it was time to have it checked out. As soon as I showed my family doctor, he said, “That needs to come off as soon as possible” and made me an urgent appointment with a surgeon.

The mole was removed on June 7, and I received a call from the surgeon herself on the 11th telling me it was melanoma (as I had secretly suspected and dreaded). On July 11, I had a wide excision, sentinel lymph node biopsy from my underarm, and four other moles removed. On July 18, I learned that the cancer had not reached my lymph nodes, and the skin removed during the wide excision was also clear.

This diagnosis has turned my world upside down. I am well aware that it can recur, so in addition to seeing my oncologist regularly, I will also see a dermatologist. I never thought that someone as pale as me would get skin cancer when I know of people who tan in tanning beds every single day. From now on, I will be hyper-aware of my body. I am so glad that something told me to get that mole checked out when I did.