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.

Comments (5)
  1. Melanie says:

    Wow! Really?? Do you not realize that even on cloudy days you can still get sunburned? I know this for a fact as I am one who can sunburn sitting under a tree on a cloudy day! Wearing sunscreen is not torture, especially now that it comes in spray form and can be applied in a matter of seconds.
    I wish this lady and her family the best of luck fighting this disease.

    1. Telling it the way it is says:

      Your a ginger. I can be in the sun all day in Minnesota and not even get burnt. Now in Texas that at least makes my skin turn red. It must be that I am not Scandinavian like most Minnesotans with there pale skin. BTW keep spraying chemicals on your body that is an easier way of getting cancer.

      1. cjk1953 says:

        You don’t know spit, so quit being cruel. Dark skin that never burns won’t protect you from melanoma. It didn’t prevent me from getting this horrible disease, and it’s nothing anyone deserves.

        I’ve often said I’d never wish melanoma on my worst enemy, but you could be my first exception.

        Surprised? You had it coming.

  2. Kathie says:

    I lost a chunk of my right arm last summer to Melanoma. I was fortunate to have not waited 6 more months or I would not be hear to talk about. What you do as a child or teenager in sun will come back to haunt you if you have gotten sunburnt alot. Prevention is everything.

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