Melanoma Cancer Survivor
It was a simple way to honor a friend lost to cancer: attend the Miles for Moffitt event with his family. It resulted in his own cancer diagnosis, followed by a prompt intervention, which possibly saved his life… while certainly changing it. Forever.
Francis Vivero, 48, his wife Lisa and children Jordan and Annabella lost their babysitter, a 30-year old Tampa woman, to breast cancer. While the rest of the family ran in the race, Francis stopped at Moffitt’s Mole Patrol, a mobile unit that provides free cancer screenings.
“It didn’t seem like any big deal. But I had this mole and my primary care doctor told me it wasn’t anything to worry about. But I didn’t believe that. I sort of knew this wasn’t a normal mole.”
Francis says it had all the telltale signs: ABC. Abnormal for him, rough borders, and multiple colors.
The Moffitt screening team on duty agreed. “I was in having it removed at Moffitt within three weeks,” he says. “They moved very fast. And since I knew that malignant melanoma could be a terrible diagnosis, I was relieved to have access to treatment so quickly.”
Francis feels lucky: he was in the right place at the right time. He was treated. He has a long life to look forward to. And he will not soon forget the lessons learned. As a general contractor, he spends a lot of time in the sun. But never without sunscreen and a hat.
“As a kid I was out in the sun all the time and I never worried about it. Not anymore."
Now he wants to get his message out to others: Visit a dermatologist for a skin review on a yearly basis, check your own skin on a regular basis, and trust your instincts if you think something doesn't look right.
“If you think you have an issue, don’t take the doctor’s first answer, just keep asking. Get a second opinion, a third opinion, because if I didn’t, I don’t know what that would have led to in my arm.”
Francis emphasizes to everyone that something as small as a pencil eraser can become a major cancer diagnosis.
As for Moffitt's ultimate diagnosis and follow-up care, Francis is eternally grateful. He credits the "extremely positive" staff for putting him at ease. "They make you feel comfortable throughout the whole process."
“No one wants to hear that they have cancer,” he says. “But you have to advocate for yourself and have the courage to find the truth if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong.”