As a red-haired man with very fair skin, Paul Fisch says he was in and out of the dermatologists office often. But when it came to one of the most important discoveries in his life, it took someone closer to him to see it.
Fisch - who serves as Gundersen Health System's Medical Media Director - recalls thinking nothing of a small spot on his neck. Cut one morning before heading to the dermatologist, his wife of 35 years noticed a difference.
"My wife said I should talk to him about that spot on my neck," Fisch said. "I said it's been there for 10 years, I haven't noticed anything."
Fisch mentioned it in the dermatologist appointment and a subsequent biopsy showed it was melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
"Melanoma only represents about 5% of the skin cancers, but 75-80% of the [fatalities]," Gundersen Dermatologist Dr. Stephen Webster said.
"I was really extremely nervous," Fisch said. "What's the next step? What are they going to find? Can they take it out?" Fisch said.
Luckily, it was caught in a very early stage. Fisch was diagnosed with Melanoma In Situ, meaning it hadn't yet spread beyond the surface.
"Going from a small little dot to the 46 stitches that it took to close that wound to where I am today... I'm very grateful," he said.
Now four years after his surgery, his attitude toward the sunlight is a bit different.
"Back when I grew up, no one really put sunscreen on," he said. "I refuse to not go outside, I still go outside all the time, [but] I wear sunscreen all the time. And it's not just a normal sunscreen, it's SPF 100. I'll put it on twice, I do it before I start and then I do it again."
And his advice to others? Listen to your doctor and to the people closest to you.
"Trust your wife!" he said. "If your wife notices something's changed, believe her and have someone look at it."