Thrive by IU Health

April 24, 2023

Couple attends free community skin cancer screening for over a decade, encourages others to prioritize early detection

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Couple attends free community skin cancer screening for over a decade, encourages others to prioritize early detection

Terri Stuart, 69, and her husband John, 74, have been attending IU Health Ball’s free community skin cancer screening for over ten years. When their daughter, Amber Wheat, radiation therapy supervisor at the hospital’s Cancer Center, told them about the opportunity to be checked for skin cancer at the yearly free screening, they decided to make a date of it and have continued to do so every year since.

“The screening is a great way to detect any abnormalities or suspicious growths at an early stage,” said Terri. “The events are always very organized, with several local professionals volunteering their time and knowledge.”

Increased sun exposure on unprotected skin can cause burns to the skin’s surface, which causes skin to age at a faster rate and puts you at an increased risk for developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with 1 in 5 Americans projected to develop skin cancer by the age of 70. It's also one of the most preventable cancers.

Skin cancer can show up in the form of new spots that appear anywhere on your body, a spot that doesn't look like anything else on your body, a sore that doesn't heal, redness or swelling beyond the boarder of a mole, surface changes to a mole and itching, pain or tenderness in an area that doesn't go away or repeatedly comes back.

You should be examining your skin regularly to notice any new growths or changes, but with so many ways skin cancer can appear, it's important to leave the diagnosing up to the professionals. Some primary care doctors may do an examination during your regular check-up, but it's suggested that you also meet with a dermatologist annually for a visual skin cancer screening. You—like the Stuarts—can also take advantage of free skin cancer screenings that are offered locally throughout the year.


For their inaugural free screening at Ball, the Stuarts brought along John's father, who had several spots and bumps from being a farmer and spending a lot of time outside in the sun, for a full body check. John, meanwhile, had spot checks done on his ears and nose. The Stuarts say that the screeners knew exactly what they were looking for and provided business cards with dermatologists' names and phone numbers for convenience. Some years have yielded follow-up appointments with a dermatologist, and the Stuarts say the doctors are always grateful when they are handed the documents from the free community screening.

“The opportunity to detect and catch early warning signs of cancer is what keeps us coming back all these years later,” said Terri. “You may think nothing of a spot, but it could actually be an issue you didn’t know you had.”

Terri and John encourage their fellow community members to call and make a scheduled appointment for the skin cancer screening, to bring a loved one, and to write down any questions or concerns in advance. They also advise bringing a pencil and paper to write down any information the doctor may tell you.

“We encourage others not to be hesitant or afraid to sign up for this cancer screening,” Terri said. “They are so helpful to your health, and it's important to do it for yourself. Plus, you can make it a family trip together and go out for dinner after like we do!”

IU Health Ball, in partnership with area dermatology offices, will be sponsoring a free skin cancer screening Thursday, May 18 with appointments beginning at 6 pm at the hospital’s Cancer Center. Space is limited, so make an appointment today. To make an appointment or for more information, call 765.751.2727.


Skin Cancer

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