Survivor Stories

Laura Kocubinski, Stage I

My name is Laura. I am a 28-year-old female living in Boston, MA. I was diagnosed with melanoma Stage I on June 21. The diagnosis turned my world upside down. I had surgery on my leg on July 6 to remove the melanoma and a lot of surrounding tissue. They took all the skin and the fat down to the muscle surrounding the tumor. Now I am sporting a 3-inch long incision with over 20 stitches and can barely walk. I am still waiting on the pathology report from my Wide Local Excision to know if I am cancer-free. Even if it comes back clear I know the Melanoma may still spread and come back 1, 5, 10, 20+ years later as Stage III or Stage IV. People think skin cancer is no big deal, but it’s cancer. There really is no such thing as “cured.” I try to appreciate every single day now.

I have been very fair all my life. I thought I looked prettier with a tan, so I got a lot of sunburns as a child and teenager. I even got teased in school for being so pale or “pasty.” Some kids would call me a ghost or point out they could see my veins because my skin was so light. For the past five years I have been staying out of the sun and embracing my natural color. I am so happy that I’m no longer in middle school and I know that I am beautiful the way I am. Now I wear sunscreen every single day. I take vitamin D per my doctor’s advice. I wear a hat every time I go outside and also clothing that has UV protection.

I still love to spend time outside hiking, running, and gardening, but I know it’s really important to be sun safe. I hope I can raise awareness for people to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV radiation and get their skin checked regularly. Melanoma, when diagnosed early, has a really good prognosis, but NOT 100%. This is why it’s so important to prevent it in the first place.

I hope that everyone can embrace the color of their skin and know they are beautiful the way they are!