Snapshots: Joan Ingram
In our Snapshots blog series, we turn to Maine Cancer Foundation constituents - from staff, board members and other volunteers, donors, grant recipients and beyond - to share important moments in their lives related to cancer. Our series will paint a broad stroke of the cancer landscape in the state, while narrowing the focus into the rare and intimate moments that bring us all together.
Snapshots #3 is the story of Joan Ingram, who discovered a mole on her left shin, which turned out to be melanoma.
“I joke with my husband he is overly cautious, but then again he saved my life,” laughs Joan Ingram. She is a freckled and fair-skinned mother of two from South Portland with a wide smile and warm disposition. When she was 30, her husband Peter (then fiancé) noticed a spot on her left leg. His insistence brought her to the dermatologist and a biopsy revealed melanoma.
Surgeons removed the melanoma and Joan was left with a two-inch scar where the spot was removed along with the margins, to test whether the cancer spread. The results from the surgery were positive; the skin cancer was gone. “Early detection is amazing. The situation was total best case scenario,” says Ingram.
Before her scare, Joan recounts going to tanning salons before vacations. “I liked to get the glow, so I would certainly avoid sunscreen when I could.” She reflects on her choices as a teenager and young adult with the weight of perspective. “When I made certain decisions in my youth, I was testing myself and discovering who I was,” she says, “though hopefully with the knowledge I have now I would have avoided some tans.”
Joan is now a mom to two young children, another outlook that has deeply shifted her focus. “Last year I had a spot I was convinced was melanoma. Earlier in my life, I just had myself. With kids, I was even more fearful.” The spot was benign, and since her surgery she has not had a recurrence.
The Ingrams live like many Maine families – soaking up the sunshine, playing in the surf along the coast, and relishing the limited days of summer. “I keep my kids covered, with rash guards and hats, but I don’t let the decisions feel overwhelming. In fact, it’s really very simple.”
For the month of May, Maine Cancer Foundation is discussing melanoma and sun safety. Thank you to Joan for sharing her story.
Maine Cancer Foundation believes every person should be empowered with the knowledge to prevent cancer before it starts. Your generous support makes our vision a reality. Learn more about our statewide prevention and early detection efforts.
Are you a Mainer with a story about cancer? We want to hear about it. E-mail [email protected].