Free Skin Cancer Screening in West Branch Sees More Than 50 People

By Christy Aumer, Reporter

Larry Cassabaum of West Branch is examined by Dr. Erica Colleran, a physician with Mercy, at the free Skin Cancer Screening that was held Saturday, October 6th, 2012 at the West Branch Family Practice. Local Dermatologists were on hand to exam people from head to toe, looking for the three types of skin cancer. (Justin Torner/Freelance)

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By Liz Blood

WEST BRANCH, Iowa - Seven dermatologists examined about 50 walk-in patients during a free skin cancer screening, Saturday.

Molly Menard coordinated the screening at the West Branch Family Practice located at 206 Cookson Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. She greeted patients with clipboards and paperwork to prepare them for the simple head to toe examination that looked for three types of skin cancer.

“My husband died from melanoma,” Menard said. “It was a shock to find out something so small could kill you.” She made a promise to her husband Mark to keep fighting, and decided to put her efforts in spreading awareness and the importance of monthly skin checks. Her husband was diagnosed with melanoma in January 2007, and it progressed to stage three before he passed away in July 2011.

“It was very aggressive,” Menard said. “I hope people can catch it early enough to help prevent it from spreading.”

Over the past year, she has actively pushed for awareness in the local middle school and high school by handing out information bags and rubber bracelets. She also helped plant trees on school property for shade when the sun is out.

“If your shadow is shorter than you,” Menard said. “Then the rays are the strongest.”

According to Town Square Dermatology doctor Robert Walling, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. He suggests staying away from tanning beds and applying sunscreen, as well as scheduling examinations.

"It's on your skin," Menard said. "It's one of the easiest things to look for, it's not like you have to zipper yourself open to see what's inside."

Over the past several years, Menard and her children have had a total of five different surgeries involving the removal of something their doctor deemed suspicious -- and it turned out to be nothing. "But, it could've been something," Menard said.

Tami Streinz, 43, of West Branch brought her 13-year-old daughter Morgan and 11-year-old son Jack Dragovich to the free screening after hearing about it from Menard, and through the West Branch Middle School newsletter.

“It was 10 really easy minutes,” Streinz said. “It would've been silly not to take advantage of this free and convenient screening.”

Menard said about 10 people that attended the screening were advised to get a mole or an area of skin examined again in the near future, some were told immediately. But the majority of people that attended the clinic walked away in the clear, and were given information packets with a list of local dermatologists.

"I believe today we are saving lives," Menard said. "You can kick the cancer's butt if you get it early and go for it -- so why not?"

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