Dave Seppala, 32, wasn’t sure he knew what melanoma was when he was first diagnosed at the beginning of 2015.
While visiting Dr. Matt Larson in our Eagan office to address a minor skin problem on his foot, Dave mentioned that while he was shaving his head that morning, a mole had begun to bleed. After examining the spot, Dr. Larson recommended further tests. Subsequent removal of the lesion and a sentinel lymph node biopsy led to a diagnosis of Stage 3 melanoma, which meant the cancer had spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Married with two small children, Dave says the worst part was telling his wife. “I was in shock after the initial diagnosis, which was pretty scary,” Dave says. “Since I’ve been bald since the age of 18, I’d always known the mole was there. I feel incredibly lucky I just happened to have an appointment with a dermatologist scheduled and that they caught it when they did.”
After surgery to remove the cancer, Dave spent a month in chemotherapy. He then underwent a year of weekly interferon injections. Although Dave will visit Dr. Larson for scans every three months for the next year, and every six months for the following five years, his prognosis is good.
“Dave is about a year out now and doing really well, thankfully,” said Dr. Larson. “Like many skin cancers of this type, the melanoma was a mole that had been there for a while, but was changing and getting irritated. This is why it’s important to know what your moles look like, and to visit the dermatologist if anything is changing in size or color, itching or bleeding.“ Dr. Larson added that about a third of melanomas arise from an existing mole, while 60-70% occur from a brand new lesion.
Dave says he’s changed a lot of his behavior after his battle with melanoma. “Since my diagnosis and treatment, I’ve convinced members of my family to get skin screenings,” Dave says. “I tell everyone they better get things checked, because you never know. As for me, I’m careful to cover up from the sun.”
Dermatology Consultants would like to thank our patients who help us spread awareness for skin cancer prevention and screening by sharing their stories. Would you like to tell your story? Send us an email at email@example.com