MAPLE PLAIN, Minn. (WCCO) — A mother from Maple Plain living with incurable cancer says she wants her story to help other people.
At 58, Joan Serena, a mother of two, is battling melanoma for the second time in her life.
“If I had been more careful, and gotten this mole checked earlier, I might not be where I am today.”
Serena says the mole she had removed on her shoulder had been bugging her for more than a year. It’s not only the time she waited to go to the doctor, but all of the time she spent baking her skin in the sun.
“I used baby oil, tin foil, I got burned,” she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, more people are being diagnosed with the disease. New cases of melanoma have doubled in the past 10 years, jumping from 50,000 to 100,000.
Doctors say early detection is essential.
“What I find is going back to ‘Sesame Street’ is which one of these doesn’t belong. A lot of people have moles, but this will be a mole that stands out, it looks different from other moles,” said dermatologist Dr. Dane Christensen.
The other big factor is sun protection, something Serena routinely reinforces with her kids.
“She made us wear sunscreen to the zoo once. It wasn’t even sunny,” said her 11-year-old son Jack.
Her teenage daughter Katie says she’s extremely careful about always wearing sunscreen and discourages her friends from going tanning.
Joan Serena is going through a trial treatment at the Mayo Clinic, vowing to fight the disease as long as she can.
“I’ve been very lucky in being able to still be here,” she said. “Right now I feel good.”
She takes life one day at a time and is hoping by telling her story she helps someone else.
“I’d like to have something good come from all of this,” she said.