Courtesy photo Beth Stewart had an area of melanoma removed from her scalp after it was revealed when she shaved her head in support of her niece, Jade Jackson, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
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published: Sunday, October 20, 2013
How cancer saved a life
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
AVON PARK -- There's usually nothing good to say about cancer. Especially when it's a 14-year-old girl who is fighting the disease.
But Jade Jackson's cancer actually turned out to be a life-saver for her aunt.
Jackson began chemotherapy for her cancer treatment in July. As the weeks went by, the most noticeable and well-known side effect from the chemo began.
"Her hair was falling out in fistfuls," said her aunt, Beth Stewart. "She decided she wanted to shave it because she was losing so much of it so quickly."
Stewart and Mandy Guthrie, also one of Jade's aunts, decided they would also shave their heads in order to support their ailing niece.
"Jade shaved her head on a Wednesday. We arrived in Sebring that weekend. It was a Saturday and our brother-in-law Travis (Crosson) shaved our heads," Stewart said.
After the shaving was done, family gathered to inspect Beth's freshly-bald head.
"Beth and I are both active, rough girls growing up, so we're looking at her head, checking for scars and war wounds and we see this spot. It wasn't actually a spot, though. We knew it wasn't a mole or a scab (but) I don't really know how you would describe it," Guthrie said.
Once the head survey was done, they moved on to Guthrie's new haircut and the "spot" was soon forgotten.
"It was a very passive, non-aggressive moment but it became very overwhelming once we knew what it was," Guthrie said.
Stewart described he spot as something she'd never seen before. In three days, the spot went from light pink in color to brown.
"I've dealt with skin cancer quite a bit so I knew what to look for -- if it was circular, what color it was -- but this wasn't anything like that. It was not a freckle or a mole, it wasn't smooth or raised. I didn't think it was anything, really, but I went ahead and made an appointment with my dermatologist anyway," Stewart said.
The spot was biopsied and the results came back positive for melanoma. CAT and PET scans to check the depth and the possible spread of the cancer followed, as did surgery to have it removed.
"It wasn't very deep and it wasn't anywhere else in my body. I had it removed the last week in August. They just cut down and took it out. This puts me up to 17 (spots) I've had removed now. I guess I got all English genes and none of my mom's Spanish ones," Stewart said with a laugh.
Stewart is now fully recovered and doing great, though melanoma continues to be a never-ending struggle for her as well as the sisters' father, Clay Gooch, Jade's grandfather.
"Daddy just had a piece of his nose removed today. He's dealt with it his whole life, they both have. It really is a constant battle," Guthrie said.
Stewart doesn't regret getting rid of her brunette locks for a second and looks forward to the day her niece is in full remission.
"It's hard for her, especially now that school has been in for a while. Her friends don't visit as much as they did during the summer, but she's fighting and is in good spirits," Stewart said.
It's got to help Jade a little knowing that her battle with cancer turned out to be a life-saver for her aunt.
"The doctor told (Stewart) he doubts she would have made it another two years," said Guthrie. "If it hadn't been for Jade and if she hadn't shaved her head ... she never would have seen the spot. It would've spread to her right lymph node and throughout her body and we would have been wondering where it all came from."
"Jade has helped a lot of people in her few years and she just saved a life."
Wonderful story! (by: Shelly Mercure - 10/20/2013)
Amazing story! God Bless Jade and her family!
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