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Lynda’s Skin Cancer Story: Take Preventive Measures and Advocate for your own Health

Melanoma survivor Lynda Haddy of Cedar Rapids.

In the early months of 2021, Lynda Haddy of Cedar Rapids, an avid biker who spends a lot of time on sunny trails in summer, noticed a new spot on her leg. At first, she didn’t think much of it.

“I would show it to people, and they’d say, ‘welcome to old age,’” Haddy said with a laugh. “And I have spots from the sun on my arms and chest, so I wasn’t too concerned.”

However, as time went on, the shape of the spot began to look irregular, and by July, she could feel a bump underneath it. It was also around this time that Haddy’s sister received a melanoma diagnosis. Knowing melanoma has a genetic component to it, this was a wake-up call for Haddy, and she scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist.

Biopsy and Diagnosis

Haddy’s dermatologist did a biopsy and sent it to pathology. The results showed stage two melanoma. She was then referred to the Advanced Melanoma and Skin Cancer Clinic at the Nassif Community Cancer Center.

Advanced Melanoma and Skin Cancer Clinic

Haddy’s care team was led by Connie Dietiker, RN, care coordinator at the Nassif Community Cancer Center. A care coordinator is a patient’s constant point of contact throughout the cancer journey. They assess patient needs and set up referrals within the care team. They’re also there for support.

“Connie was my anchor,” said Haddy. “Anytime I was stressed or had any questions I could reach out to Connie for help. She would always go above and beyond for me. She’s amazing.”

Dietiker also connected Haddy with Nancy Yeisley, MSW, LISW, OSW-C, oncology social worker at the Nassif Community Cancer Center, who was able to help Haddy secure financial assistance through the Spirit Fund, which helps patients who qualify with expenses.

“With all that was happening, it was nice to get a little extra help with my expenses through the Spirit Fund,” said Haddy.

Surgery and Treatment

Dr. John Vander Zee was another key member of the care team. He performed Haddy’s surgery, which involved removing the cancerous area and placing a skin graft. He also removed a couple lymph nodes and ran tests to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread. The good news was it hadn’t, so no radiation or chemotherapy was necessary.

“After the surgery and tests to see if the cancer had spread, I felt very reassured,” shared Haddy. “Dr. Vander Zee is the best and always on top of all the newest technology in melanoma treatment.”

Podcast Episode: Skin Cancer
Dr. John Vander Zee discusses types of skin cancer, prevention recommendations, and how the Advanced Melanoma and Skin Cancer Clinic is the one-stop-shop for skin cancer patients in the area.


Follow-up Care with the Survivorship Clinic

About six months later, Haddy met with Heather Dommer, ARNP, FNP-C, MSN, survivorship nurse practitioner at the Nassif Community Cancer Center. The Survivorship Clinic is for patients who have completed treatment and are preparing to face life after cancer and all the changes that may come with it. At the initial appointment, the nurse practitioner and survivor will discuss medical history, lifestyle changes, cancer surveillance and other services available at the Nassif Community Cancer Center to help the patient thrive in survivorship.

“The Survivorship Clinic was a good experience,” said Haddy. “I have a fear of the cancer coming back. Heather talked with me about that. She also recommended I do genetic testing, which can be helpful for my children to know if they are at an increased risk.”

“Additionally, all the support services at the cancer center – massage, exercise, dietitians, social work – are still available to me, and all survivors,” she continued. “I’ve used all of these, and everyone is so supportive. It’s truly a team approach to cancer care!”

Take Preventive Measures and be an Advocate for your own Health

Haddy’s message to those who read her story is to do everything you can to prevent skin cancer.

“Don’t take your skin for granted,” she said. “I’m from the generation where we were outside in the sun all summer and we didn’t wear sunscreen. I’ve also done long bike rides where I applied sunscreen in the morning but didn’t re-apply. I would encourage everyone to cover as much of their skin as possible with a sun shirt or hat and re-apply sunscreen frequently.”

She also wants readers to get checked if something doesn’t seem right.

“I now tell all my family and friends to get any spots they are unsure of checked out. This has led to two people who I know finding their skin cancers earlier. If you see something, get checked. It could save your life.”

Face Skin Cancer with Confidence

If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, or any type of cancer, the Nassif Community Cancer Center is here for you. For more information about the Advanced Melanoma & Skin Cancer Clinic, as well as our wide range of support services available to cancer patients and survivors, call (319) 558-4876 or visit


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