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Northland woman shares skin cancer scare, May marks Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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ESKO, MN-- May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Cancer Society, over five million people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S every year.

Roughly 100,000 cases are melanoma, a common type of skin cancer that could become very serious, even deadly.

Here in the Northland, Esko resident, Dana Kazel had a dark spot on her arm for about two years.

"I've always had a lot of freckles, so I didn't take it too seriously," said Kazel.

Meanwhile, her kids felt something wasn't right and feared it could be more than just a freckle.

"We found it like two years ago, and it was just a purple mark," said her 16-year-old son AJ Kazel. "In health class, we learned that that could be melanoma and we really wanted her to get it checked out."

So after push came to shove, Dana finally got tested three weeks ago. Doctors told her that spot turned out to be melanoma.

Last week she went in for surgery to get the spot and some lymph nodes removed.

"There was a chance it could've spread to my lymph nodes," adds Kazel. "If in fact it, had I would've already been at stage three cancer."

The Minnesota chapter of the American Cancer Society says if anything on your skin is changing don't take any chances.

"If you notice something that looks like it might've changed or somebody comments on it, it's better to check it out and find out it's nothing, than to miss something that could be potentially serious," said Matt Foly the MN chapters Cancer Control Strategic Partnerships Manager. "

Recovering at home, and now cancer free, Dana Kazel hopes sharing her story will encourage others to get tested.

She says her happy ending is all thanks to her kids.

"They're my heroes in this, I honestly don't know how soon I would've gotten this checked out if it wasn't for them."

Those at the American Cancer Society say roughly 1,800 Minnesotans are diagnosed with a type of melanoma every year.

They propose using sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.

They also say to reapply every two hours and stay in the shade when the sun is strongest.

"It's really important, particularly in a state that doesn't get a lot of sun," said Foly. "A lot of time to be outside; that people practice that sun safety and pay attention to their skin."

On Monday, Twin Ports Dermatology offered free skin exams to Northlanders.

This is the clinic's fifth year offering free exams for Melanoma Monday.

They say they'll continue this tradition each year as a mission to prevent skin cancer deaths and educate patients on what to look for during self-exams.

For more information click here.

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Emma Quinn

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