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Debra Sutton used to consider herself a sun seeker. She loved spending time outside on warm, sunny days. But with her Irish background and fair skin, she ended up with some pretty nasty sunburns over the years. Little did she know those sunburns would lead to melanoma later in life.
It started with a small scratch on her neck.
“It was just a tiny scratch but no matter what I did, it wouldn’t go away,” Debra says. “It started getting bigger, and my primary care doctor told me I needed to get it checked out by a dermatologist. So I went in for an appointment and they decided to do a biopsy of the spot on my neck, plus another spot on my forehead. Both came back positive for melanoma.”
Although her dermatologist recommended she undergo surgery right away, Debra put it off for a year. She was concerned about the cost of the procedure and potential scarring. Ultimately, her son convinced her she needed to get treatment. But in just one year the tiny spots on her neck and forehead had grown significantly, requiring more extensive treatment.
“One of the reasons I didn’t get treatment right away is I was worried about scarring,” Debra explains. “But I ended up needing 20 stitches in my forehead and 40 stitches in my neck because I waited. If I had gone in right away it would have been much less. So I recommend anyone else with melanoma get it taken care of as soon as possible.”
Fortunately, Debra’s surgeon was skilled and her recovery was successful. After a few days she was back at work and within a week her stitches were removed. Although the scars remained for a while after the procedure, they faded over time.
“You can hardly notice the scars now,” Debra says. “I healed fast and the scars healed really well.”
With the stress of undergoing surgery taken care of, Debra turned her attention to paying for treatment. But it turns out she had nothing to worry about.
“The whole thing was seamless with my insurer, Network Health,” she says. “I didn’t have any problem getting the treatments approved and there weren’t any surprises with the bills. My insurance covered a portion of the treatment, just like they said they would.”
Today, Debra is diligent about taking care of her skin and protecting it from harmful rays.
“I use a higher SPF sunscreen every day now – even during the winter months – and try to stay out of the sun,” Debra says. “I hope others can learn from my experience and I would stress it’s important to pay attention to your skin and if you notice anything weird to go in and get it checked out. It’s easy to put it off if you’re worried about scarring or cost but how quickly you get treated can make a big difference.”