ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Holly Barker heads up the design school at Randolph Community College, but there's another lesson she's hoping to really get across to her students.
"It could've easily been overlooked, no one really noticed it because it was so small," remembered Holly as she showed us the spot that's still healing on her eyelid. "And my ear, it would bleed from time to time. I thought that was strange so after a few weeks, I went to the doctor."
Turns out, both spots were a non-malignant form of cancer called Basil Cell Carcinoma. The danger from that type of cancer is in where it is on the body. Doctors told her had she not caught the cancer within a year, it could have spread to her sinuses and her brain. "I just didn't take no for an answer. I was pretty vigilant about saying, 'Yes, I will just go again and get a different doctor's opinion,' because I knew in my gut something was wrong."
Holly went into surgery immediately, not knowing how far the cancer had spread or exactly what would happen next. "They said, 'You possibly could lose an ear or an eyelid.’"
She is now healing from her recent surgery, with just some stitches and is expected to be fine.
So these days, along with helping her students create an eye for design, she wants them to really take a good look at their bodies, for 10 minutes every month, and look for any odd changes on their skin, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
"Even a doctor thought it was cyst, but cancer can look very different in different circumstances and in different areas and on different bodies."