Jay Leonard's Patient Story
A Man Who Knew Something Was Wrong and Seeked Help
"You have melanoma." Words I was not expecting to hear after the results of a biopsy I had of a small place on my face. I visited the same dermatologist for several years. Each year he told me it was nothing to worry about. He even said it was probably seborrheic keratosis. They removed other suspicious spots by "freezing" them, never offering to biopsy. For those of you who do not know, melanoma skin cancer can be fatal. In addition to removal, radiation and chemotherapy are often needed. Thank the Lord I only needed surgery. I proudly wear a 3-4 inch scar on the side of my face now as a reminder to always be your own advocate. I am a 25 year veteran with the Fayetteville Fire Department. I was unable to perform my job, resulting in being placed on leave for several weeks. There are many articles siting that firefighters are at high risk for developing several types of cancers. Firefighters are working with Congress to introduce a National Firefighter Cancer Registry. We are pursuing this as our own personal advocates. Had I not asked my primary care provider, this "spot" would still be untreated. Speak up, ask questions. You are not bothering your provider, you are there to address concerns. They rely on us as much as we rely on them. If something doesn't seem right, GET ANOTHER OPINION!