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Skin cancer survivor makes donation to UNM Dermatology Department

Emily Jaceks
June 22, 2017 05:29 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- With the sun shining and temperatures soaring, it's no surprise the American Cancer Society says New Mexico is among the states with the highest rates of new skin cancer cases.

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However, one benefactor is hoping to change that.

"My husband and I are endowing a professor of dermatology to skin cancer diseases. The reason we've done this is because I've had skin cancer myself," said Ellen King, a melanoma survivor.

King has been diagnosed with all three types. She said her hairdresser discovered the first -- a suspicious mole -- and urged her to get it checked out.

"The hardest thing was I was told over the telephone I had melanoma," King said. "I wouldn't encourage they do that. It was very scary. My husband had a harder time than I did. I was told it was stage four. Fortunately, it wasn't."

Seventeen years later, she's cancer-free and hoping a $500,000 donation to the UNM Department of Dermatology will recruit a new professor -- a highly qualified professional that will stay in the community.

"This gift helps us with that difficult in that it brings national recognition to the position," said Aimee Smidt, chair of the dermatology department. "We will be able to recruit someone with a national reputation because someone will be drawn to a named, endowed professorship."

In addition to teaching classes at UNM, the new professor will also go out into the community educating the public on ways to spot the early signs of skin cancer.

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Emily Jaceks

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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