INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams revealed in a Facebook post Wednesday that his wife, Lacey Adams, is battling stage three metastatic melanoma.
The diagnosis comes ten years after she was first diagnosed and treated. Dr. Adams previously served as Indiana's health commissioner. In the post talking about his wife’s diagnosis, Adams said sharing her story will help raise awareness about the disease and the importance of early detection.
Skin cancer advocates say it’s a reminder that the disease doesn’t discriminate and can return years after it goes into remission, like it did with Lacey Adams.
“I’ve had it for twenty-plus years, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have it for the rest of my life,” said New Whiteland resident and skin cancer survivor Judy Cloud.
Cloud was only 28 when she got her first skin cancer diagnosis in 1995.
“Then, I had several more diagnoses after that,” said Cloud.
She’s never had melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but she’s had several bouts of basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Each one needed surgical removal, which took place as recently as last December.
“The key thing is check yourself, know your body, and recognize when things change,” said Dr. William Wooden, a specialist at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center.
Wooden says stories from survivors like Cloud and Adams serve a good reminder for people to get checked and protect themselves.
“If anything looks abnormal-- abnormal color, abnormal size, shape, bleeds, is irritated, please don’t wait to get that checked,” said Wooden.
Cloud now does advocacy work and always shares the same advice.
“Number one, don’t go in a tanning bed. You don’t need a base tan to go on vacation,” she said.
Extensive data shows tanning beds and sunburns are major contributing factors for all skin cancers. Experts also say sunburns in children can cause problems later in life.
“When we’re young and are children, we want to avoid those first peeling sunburns,” said Wooden.
Cloud wishes someone would have given her that advice when she was young, and hopes others will learn from it.
“I can’t fix what I did to my skin when I was younger, but I can take better care of it now,” said Cloud.