#ThisIsSkinCancer: Peter’s Story
Peter Graylin’s brother-in-law was alarmed when he saw an unusual mole on Peter’s right leg.
“We were in the garden having a drink on a Sunday. He looked down at my calf and pointed to a spot there, and said, ‘You know, you better get that checked out,’” Peter recalls. Although his brother-in-law urged him to see a dermatologist, Peter was not worried. “I didn’t really think anything about it.”
The next day, a series of uncanny events unfolded. For Peter, these coincidences proved to be both fortunate and life changing.
“Oh, blow me down, I might go get checked.”
On Monday, with his brother-in-law’s words still fresh in his mind, Peter traveled to New York City where he works as vice president and general counsel for Colgate-Palmolive Company.
“It happened to be Skin Cancer Month, and the company I work for, EltaMD, makes sunscreens,” Peter says. Then, later that day, Peter stumbled upon a Destination Healthy Skin free skin cancer screening event.
“I stepped outside of the office and right there is the mobile unit of The Skin Cancer Foundation. I said ‘Oh, blow me down I might go get checked. This is really convenient.’”
Peter walked inside the RV and did just that.
Classic ABCDE Warning Signs
Jane Yoo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, Mohs surgeon and Destination Healthy Skin volunteer, examined Peter’s spot. Right away, Dr. Yoo strongly suspected that it was a melanoma.
“It was really classic and followed the ABCDE criteria in terms of what we look for in melanomas,” explains Dr. Yoo. “A stands for asymmetry, B for irregular borders, C for color – it was multicolor, a lot of brown, a lot of black. And D, it was big in diameter – about one centimeter.”
When Dr. Yoo learned that Peter was preparing for a trip to Africa, she convinced him to come to her office for a biopsy the following day.
“She did the biopsy, she checked the rest of the body as well and didn’t find anything else, and I headed off to Africa for safari,” explains Peter.
Melanoma In Situ
Dr. Yoo called Peter as soon as he arrived in Africa. His biopsy results came back as melanoma in situ or Stage 0 melanoma.
“Melanoma in situ is known as a thin melanoma, meaning that the cancer cells are contained in the top layer of the skin,” Dr. Yoo explains. “They have not started to grow in the deeper layers of the skin.”
The estimated five-year survival rate for U.S. patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 68 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 30 percent when the disease metastasizes (spreads) to distant organs.
Surgery and Newfound Vigilance
When Peter returned to New York, Dr. Yoo performed excisional surgery to remove the melanoma.
“She took out a fairly hefty chunk of flesh,” says Peter. “I have to say it looks like I have a bloody dog bite, but she played it safe and got it all out.”
Now that Peter has had melanoma, he is at increased risk for developing more skin cancers, so Dr. Yoo will screen him every six months.
Peter is grateful about the sequence of events he encountered during Skin Cancer Awareness Month. First, his brother-in-law urged him to get a spot checked. Then, he discovered a free screening event right outside of his Manhattan office. And finally, the 2022 Destination Healthy Skin program was sponsored by EltaMD, a brand owned by Peter’s employer, Colgate-Palmolive. Together, these coincidences changed Peter’s perspective about skin cancer, and possibly saved his life.
Now, Peter wants everyone to be vigilant.
“I was a classic example of somebody who said ‘Nah, I’ve been checked enough I’ve never had an issue, it will never happen to me and then blow me down, it did.’”
See anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin? Go get checked!
Learn more about The Skin Cancer Foundation’s free skin cancer screening program: