From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders
August 3, 2022
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. Skin cancer, which can occur because of cumulative sun damage, is the most diagnosed cancer in the country and incidences continue to rise. Because we are living longer, it is important to continue regular skin exams. By paying attention to skin changes and developing a close relationship with his doctors, David Henderson has survived two skin cancer diagnoses.
Fair-skinned and aged 65 with significant sun exposure as a youth and young adult, David fits the profile of a skin cancer patient. “When I was growing up, we didn’t have the skin cancer protection awareness that we do now,” says David. “I worked outdoors in construction during my early 20s and I got a lot of burns from sun exposure.” So, when he noticed an irregular mole on his arm in his early 40s, he mentioned it to his primary care doctor who referred him to a dermatologist. The dermatologist diagnosed him with stage three or four skin cancer and removed the mole. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread to David’s lymph nodes.
“I continued to have annual skin checks with my dermatologist and my wife and daughter started coming along with me,” said David. “It’s important to get established with a dermatologist and develop a good relationship with them.”
In July of 2019, David felt a hardened lump under the skin of his arm and immediately scheduled an appointment with his dermatologist. The dermatologist removed the cherry pit-sized lump and sent it to a lab for evaluation. It was malignant and David would need additional surgery to remove more tissue from the margins. His wife is a cousin of OHC medical oncologist and hematologist Suzanne M. Partridge, MD, so David gave her a call.
Dr. Partridge said that David once again had stage three-to-four skin cancer. She wanted to be aggressive with his treatment and recommended Keytruda injections once David healed from surgery. “Keytruda is an immunotherapy we can use when skin cancer has returned,” said Dr. Partridge. “Cancer cells can hide from the body’s immune system. Immunotherapies prevent cancer cells from hiding and help the immune system work properly to detect and fight cancer cells.” David had 17 infusions over the course of one year.
“I knew I had made the right decision in calling Dr. Partridge because from the first time I met her she had a plan and it made total sense,” said David. “OHC represents an assured, comfortable feeling that everybody—from the front desk through the nurses—is competent and cares for their patients.” David will continue to see Dr. Partridge every three months and have scans every six months.
A resident of Delhi who doesn’t consider himself a cancer survivor because he feels other patients have had it worse than him, David enjoys outdoor activities and kayaking. “I don’t avoid the outdoors because of my skin cancer diagnoses,” he said. “I take precautions and wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and a hat.”
David strongly recommends seeing a dermatologist after discovering a change in your skin. “Your doctor will get an idea of what your skin normally looks like and then can easily identify changes during regular visits,” said David. “All of my friends know to get anything suspicious looked at. It’s not something to keep putting off.”
Top photo: OHC patient David Henderson is surviving and thriving after two skin cancer diagnoses. He continues to enjoy outdoor activities, particularly kayaking, while taking precautions to protect his skin.Comments (0)