Dearborn woman encouraging skin checks

Posted at 8:05 AM, Feb 29, 2016

About two months ago, WXYZ anchor Alicia Smith had surgery for skin cancer. Since then, her scar has continued to heal, and she's had other biopsies that have all come back negative.

Alicia's story helped encourage people to get their skin checked--and for one viewer, it was a potentially life-saving decision. 

Sue Ellis of Dearborn loves spending time with her family--especially when they’re outside having fun in the sun.

"Probably just in the last 10, 15 years have I started wearing sunscreen. Before that it was burn, baby, burn.," said Ellis. 

But last summer, she remembers noticing a small bump on her upper right lip.

"It didn't look like any other mole I'd ever had. It would blend in with the skin,” said Ellis. 

Months passed and she didn’t think much of it.  That's until she caught Alicia's skin cancer story on TV. 

"Actually, after seeing your story, I knew that I needed to call my dermatologist to get it checked out because [our bumps] looked identical, and they were in the same spot,” said Ellis.

Coincidentally, Alicia and Sue also shared the same dermatologist: Dr. Helene Dombrowski.  Sue called Dr. Dombrowski the same day she saw Alicia's story and booked an appointment two days later.

"We examined her, and -- sure enough -- there was a very small, pink papular bump -- smaller than a pencil eraser and in almost the exact same location as is yours," explained Dr. Dombrowski to Alicia. 

So, Dr. Dombrowski did a biopsy on the bump, and it came back positive for basal cell carcinoma.  On January 7, Sue had surgery to cut it out of her lip.

Since then, she says her scar has healed remarkably well, and she's relieved the cancer is gone.

"Thank you for airing [your] story because that convinced me to get in," said Sue. 

Sue's son is getting married in April down in Florida. She says -- because of this experience -- all of the gift bags will include sunscreen.


1) Wear at least an SPF 30 Broad Spectrum sunblock that protects against both UVA and UVB rays -- even under your makeup, ladies!

2) Reapply your sunscreen every two hours if you're outside -- even more often if you're getting in and out of water.