DIAMOND, Ohio - The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 10,000 people in the United States will die from melanoma skin cancer this year. But a second doctor's opinion has given a Portage County cancer patient a new lease on life.
While college brings many challenges, 20-year-old Megan Gibbons is facing an even tougher challenge.
"We all just thought it was a blackhead," she said.
Two years ago, Megan noticed a black spot on the right side of her face that got bigger over time. After having the growth removed and a biopsy performed, the family's fears became a reality.
"He had told us, basically, you have about five years to live," said Megan's mother, Crystal.
Though shocked and numb from the news, the family would not accept the prognosis as final. They decided to go to the Cleveland Clinic for a second opinion. Their instinct paid off.
"After they looked at the different slides of the mole, they convinced us that this is something that they can treat and that she would have a long life ahead of her," Megan's father, Roger, explained.
Megan started chemotherapy treatment last March while attending classes at Kent State's main campus. Classes and chemotherapy made for long days and many side effects.
"I would get these massive headaches where I felt like someone was taking my head and just slamming it against concrete," Megan explained.
"Watching her go through chemo, I would have given anything to have me in her place," said Crystal.
Megan's treatments will be over soon, an experience that has helped her learn more about herself.
"I've actually found strength within myself I never thought I had."
While nursing has always been Megan's passion, the 20-year-old has decided to specialize in pediatric oncology due to her personal experience with cancer.
"I can be that rock for those kids. I've been there, I can relate to them."
This semester, Megan is continuing her studies at Kent State's Stark County campus. She urges anyone who discovers something suspicious on their skin to get it checked immediately.
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