Leitchfield resident Alanna Hale has had a number of close calls, health-wise, in her life, but few have been as trying as her struggle with malignant melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer.
Hale said she has dealt with multiple squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas since 2004, when the first occurrence appeared on her leg.
She was officially diagnosed with skin cancer in June of 2004 by Dr. Jeffery Callen, a dermatologist out of Louisville, who observed the area.
Hale’s condition was diagnosed Clark level III, and she went into surgery at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center the first week of July to have it removed.
“I’m lucky I’m alive,” she said.
After her surgery, Hale was informed that her carcinomas had spread further underneath than they appeared on the surface of her skin.
“It was just unreal how fast it grows,” she said.
Hale said doctors initially gave her six to seven months to live, but she prayed that she might live long enough to see her two daughters grow up, graduate from high school and be able to live on their own.
To this day, Hale was still deals with basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and she continues to have CT and and PET scans performed to make sure her cancer has not spread.
“I can’t tell you how many of those I’ve had cut off my body,” she said. “…It’s a lot to go through.”
But Hale’s youngest daughter just graduated from Grayson County High School, and her oldest daughter is 22, working for UPS, and attending college on the side to become a psychologist to treat soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“[God] answered my prayers,” she said. “Here I am.”
Hale, who lived in San Diego, CA for 12 years working in the medical field, spent a large portion of her life in the sun—sky-diving, skiing, hiking, etc.
She has since learned that individuals who have two to three serious sunburns before they turn 25 have a significantly higher chance of developing malignant melanoma.
“If spots are left alone, they can progress to malignant melanoma,” she said. “…You’ve got to really watch for the signs.”
Hale also encouraged anyone participating in outdoor activities to apply and re-apply sunscreen.
Despite her more than 10-year struggle, Hale said she has done everything she can to live her life to the fullest.
She has since made Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” her “motto song” to inspire her to keep fighting, even when times are difficult.
Hale said she knows first-hand that individuals battling cancer, especially those just diagnosed, may be feeling scared or in denial, and to them she advises they seek out support from someone else who’s gone through the same experience.
“You can beat it…You’ve just got to believe, and be strong,” she said.
Additionally, for anyone who wishes to talk about their struggle or seek further advice, Hale recommends that he or she visits the Brown Cancer Center’s website.
“Just appreciate life, and enjoy it to the fullest,” Hale said.