Listening to mother’s advice saved her life

Mole turned out to be skin cancer

Carol Wagner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Erin Prey is a cancer survivor. She is sitting with her husband, Mike, and their children, Maddin 4, and Saylor, 1.

Erin Prey went in for a skin test every year because she and other members of her family have a lot of moles. She had a very small mole about the size of a pencil eraser on the outside of her lower left leg that got darker and was turning colors.

“I don’t think most people would have noticed it,” Prey said.

It was six months after her now 4-year-old son, Maddin, was born July 8, 2012. Prey and her husband, Mike, are also parents to a daughter, Saylor, 1.

When Prey showed her mother, Diane Schultz, Schultz told her to get it checked and said she would make the appointment if necessary, giving her daughter a little push.

A doctor in Green Bay removed the mole, but still neither Prey nor the doctor were concerned.

Then she got a phone call that it was melanoma, cancer of the skin.

“That word is life altering,” said Prey, a school psychologist at Hillcrest Primary School in Shawano.

She was told she was really young for having melanoma.

A plastic surgeon in Green Bay removed more tissue from her leg that bordered the cancer.

“He took a pretty excessive amount, I thought,” Prey said.

She was kind of sore but the doctor got it all. Prey didn’t need to have radiation or chemotherapy.

Eventually her leg filled in with tissue, leaving just a trace of the surgery.

She went back every three months for a year and now goes every six months.

“I have to be really diligent about my body,” Prey said.

The first year after the diagnosis, she didn’t even want to go outside in the sun. Prey worries about her children because her son has moles, but knows prevention is the key.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said. “I listened to my mom, She saved my life. She’s my hero.”

She has gone to the Shawano-Menominee American Cancer Society Relay for Life every year since. The first year during the survivors lap was especially emotional.

“I was bawling,” Prey said. “It changes your whole life.”


WHAT: Shawano-Menominee American Cancer Society Relay for Life

WHEN: Saturday, March 25, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Shawano Community High School, 220 County Road B, Shawano