Melanoma was the last diagnosis cancer survivor Rita Hubbard was expecting when she went to get a mole on her back checked out.
“I was diagnosed in the fall of 2016. It started with just a trip to my regular general practitioner. She referred me to a dermatologist, and the dermatologist removed an existing mole for a biopsy and it was melanoma,” Hubbard said.
She was terrified.
“It was really scary to find out, and I have two fairly young children,” she said. “First thing that obviously came to mind was, ‘What’s going to happen if I die?’ and luckily that didn’t happen.”
Hubbard had a major surgery and another biopsy to make sure the cancer didn’t spread.
“I had to have surgery to remove a bigger portion of skin to make sure that they had gotten it all out,” she said. “At that point they also did a biopsy of my lymph nodes. That biopsy came back positive that there was also a melanoma in my lymph nodes. From there, I went to another surgery where they removed all the lymph nodes from my left leg.”
While Hubbard is now cancer-free, she continues a battle with a condition called lymphedema in her leg as a result of cancer spreading to her lymph nodes.
Initially Hubbard was hesitant to go to the doctor, but now she’s happy she did.
“My husband and I had a very specific conversation where he said, ‘You need to go and get that checked.’ My exact comment was, ‘I don’t have time. I don’t want to miss school. I don’t have time to do that.’ He said ‘I don’t have time for you to be dead,’ which stopped me in my tracks,” she said. “I made that appointment. At the time I thought ‘Gosh, that’s really harsh.’ I’m so glad that he said it because if he wouldn’t have most likely I would have put it off and waited.”
Hubbard, who teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies at Spring Garden Middle School, said that she wanted to her students and her own kids to understand that some things you have to get through.
“I feel like I’m just a normal mom, teacher and person that’s kind of had a bad thing happen. From the minute I found out ... the biggest thing was I wanted my kids and I wanted my students to see life is going to have bad things in it, but what you do when those things happen is you keep fighting and you keep working hard. I’m hopeful that I’ve done that,” Hubbard said.
To learn more about skin cancer, visit www.skincancer.org.