‘This would have been a preventable death:’ How skin cancer screenings save lives

RICHLAND, Wash. — Without proper protection, the sun can leave its mark, which can quickly become dangerous, and even life threatening. This is why one local dermatology center, DermaHealth Dermatology & Dermasurgery provides free skin cancer screening at their annual events in May and July.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 15, the dermatology center hosted an event to provide a variety of services to the public.

READ: DermaHealth offers free skin cancer screenings to the public

“Every March and every summer, we try to give back to the community. We do free skin cancer screenings, phenomenal sales, and lots of giveaways,” said Dr. Sidney Smith, the dermatologist at DermaHealth Dermatology & Dermasurgery.

For some people who attend, these screenings mean more than just a little check up. One regular at DermaHealth, Lori Powell, said this free screening saves lives.

Lori Powell’s story

“My first husband was diagnosed with malignant melanoma skin cancer, and it was a really difficult process to walk through with him because it ended up taking his life,” said Powell. “To me, it’s really important to make sure that I take care of my skin because I saw how something so simple could be so life changing just by checking your skin.”

She’s been a patient since the center opened fifteen years ago. Every time they hold an event like the one on Friday, with free skin cancer screenings, she gets a check-in.

“The way I look at it is there’s life experiences that teach us things so that we can help others,” said Powell.

It’s something that no one wants to experience, but according to DermaHealth, it is the most common cancer in the U.S. and worldwide.

“Unfortunately, skin cancer is very prevalent. If you look at the general population, one in five are gonna get skin cancer, after you get to the age of 65, it’s one in two, and it’s something that we can treat if we catch it early,” said Dr. Smith.

Powell advocates for getting screenings, and encourages everyone around her to keep an eye on their skin.

She said, “It’s super important because you don’t want to go through an experience like I did, where you have to walk a loved one through a process, a slow process, of passing on from something that is preventable.”

Powell said that her late husband was diagnosed in 1988, and passed away October 1992. She said it was a four year battle with multiple treatments and multiple surgeries that were not successful.

Skin cancer prevention

Luckily, there is a way to prevent it. The first step to prevention and treatment is to get skin cancer screening done.

“We’re here to help. And that’s our job. We want to help you have happy and healthy skin. So don’t forget your sunscreen and come and let us help you,” said Dr. Smith.

“Skin cancer is preventable. If you take the steps, doing your screenings, wearing sunscreen, wearing protective clothes,” said Powell. “If we had done those things, this would have been a preventable death for my deceased husband.”