Survivor Stories

Lori Cathey, Stage III

Hello! I share to provide education on prevention, especially to the youth. I am also a nurse, so use my role to educate/advocate. In high school, I used to spend a lot of time tanning in the backyard to get as dark as I could. I thought since I wore tanning lotion with SPF 4 and didn’t burn, it was okay. At age 26, I noticed a new reddish “freckle” that was splotchy under my chin. It was melanoma Stage I. It was excised and I started wearing sunscreen and had already stopped outside tanning.

At age 36, I noticed an enlarged lymph node under my chin (submental region). It was melanoma. It had come back 10 years later… and had spread beyond my lymph node. That was in 2011. After a year of treatments and surgeries, I was declared NED. This year, 2021, marks my 10-year mark again. Melanoma can be scary and evasive. It can come back when our immune systems are low, so it’s important to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Having a new perspective on life and beauty from fear and pain can be realized. One thing that is important to recovery is mental health treatment. I recommend speaking to a counselor and allowing yourself to grieve and process your journey. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and love yourself! That includes loving the skin you’re in and the scars that tell what you’ve overcome. Yearly dermatologist visits are something many people just don’t know about and early detection is possible with this! But the real message I like to spread is PREVENTION-don’t tan, wear sunscreen/reapply, stay out of the intense sun, wear hats and sunglasses, etc. And trust yourself; you know your skin better than anyone.

I especially encourage youth to take care of their skin and have advocated with our school board for allowing the kids to bring hats and sunglasses to school for outdoor times. My own (now grown) children have even taken up the cause and spread the word at school, college and in their sports. Special thanks to my husband for being my biggest supporter of all.

Lori Cathey
Stage III
Age 45
McKinney, Texas
Date Diagnosed: 10/31/2011