Phillips is one of this year’s honorary co-chairs for Relay for Life. Although she at first didn’t think her story was as inspiring as other cancer survivors she knew, she said that Relay co-chair Dannye Wagner convinced her otherwise. She said Wagner told her that her story could remind people to pay attention to possible signs of cancer, as well as making them realize that the disease doesn’t have to disrupt their lives much.
In the last eight years, Phillips has had 21 skin cancers removed, but you would never know it from looking at her. Considering that 16 were removed from her face, she is fortunate, but it’s no accident. She is always checking her skin for little red dots so she can catch them before they have an opportunity to spread. She has checkups scheduled every three months with her doctor, Harry Creekmore of Clarksville, but she has often come in earlier to have spots checked out or removed. She is constantly checking her skin, especially her face, for tiny red spots. Phillips said she has become so good at finding cancers on her own that Creekmore joked that he could put her on staff. Although scheduling extra appointments can sometimes be a hassle, it’s well worth it if she can fix a problem before it comes too big.
“What’s an office visit just to find out?” she said.
Phillips has had multiple diagnoses of basal call carcinomas, which are the most common form of skin cancer. About eight years ago, she found a mark on her forehead which she thought at first was a chicken pock scar. After a checkup, she found out what it really was and had it removed in January 2000. The last one (number 21) was taken off in February 2008. The cancer is caused by things like lying out in the sun and in tanning beds for extended periods of time, of which Phillips said she did a lot when she was younger. It is also hereditary, and she said her mother and grandfather have had the same problems in the past.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.