Leah Bowman

So I have a really ironic story and I feel that sharing with people will bring awareness to something we don’t think about…Melanoma.


My co-worker Maureen shared with me, the Run For Dunn which is in honor of her friend dying from Melanoma.  I signed up for the run to support Maureen and loved that there were free skin cancer screenings.  I started  sharing this information about the run with my co-workers and letting them know that they get Wellness Points (which equals money in their pocket) for participating; 40 points for the run and 20 for the skin screening, which I think is awesome!  

Maureen sharing her story and me being a Wellness Ambassador for my employer tie in to the next part of this story.

For a couple of weeks I was breaking out in hives and my primary physician couldn’t figure out why, so I made an appointment with a dermatologist, Dr. Naomi Brooks at Boise Dermatology.  While I was sitting there, I started thinking to myself, {I’m already here, I’ve never had a skin screening, I’m a Wellness Ambassador and I should walk the walk, and I thought about Maureen and her friend.}  I asked if there was time for an impromptu skin screening, and surprisingly Dr. Brooks assistant said, “yes”.

I went through the screening and Dr. Brooks said she wanted to take a biopsy of a spot on the back of my left arm, I said sure {insert panic and a questionable response in the tone of my voice}. She didn’t say much, and said she just wanted to make sure it wasn’t something to worry about.  She numbed my arm, took a scalpel to my arm and that was it.  Super quick, painless and fast.

Wednesday, March 28th  Dr. Brooks called (I was on my step challenge lunch walk so I didn’t answer); I called her back after the walk.  Dr. Brooks broke the news to me that I had Melanoma and said she would like to get me scheduled for surgery as soon as possible and gave me the date of April 13th.  Before I could even respond or ask questions, she went in to explaining what Melanoma is, the different stages 0-4, that this cancer can be deadly, but this was caught early and there is a 99% success rate this early in the stage.  I sat in the parking garage feeling like I was just punched in the gut and I was in pure shock.  I remained calm until I hung up the phone.  I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to go back inside to work.  

The part that sits in my gut with this awful feeling, is all of this:  if I wasn’t a Wellness Ambassador, if we didn’t have excellent health coverage, if we didn’t have a Wellness Program,  if I wasn’t competitive with using the wellness portal and wanting to lead by example and if Maureen hadn’t shared her story with me….I would have never gotten that skin screening!  Being a Wellness Ambassador and Maureen’s story could have very well just saved my life!!

I had surgery April 13th, and received the results back that I have clear margins and the cancer has been removed.  I am very grateful for Dr. Naomi Brooks and her team at Boise Dermatology as well as the City of Boise for having a Wellness Program and Maureen Brewer.