by Dennis Dalman
Although she trained so hard for it, Andrea Beck-Sailer of Sartell won’t be able to compete in the Sartell Apple Duathlon May 23.
Recent treatment for skin cancer forced her to alter her plans. But she’ll still attend the event as a volunteer, most likely as a guide directing runners and bikers on their course. She’s also volunteer for the Kids’ Apple Duathlon the night before, May 22.
She will, however, get to run in the Mayor’s 5k race at Sartell SummerFest 2015 June 12. She is this year’s director of that race.
In February, Beck-Sailer started training hard for the upcoming “Apple,” running, biking, walking, working out. In March, during a vacation trip to Mexico, she became concerned about a mole on the inner thigh of her left leg. It looked odd – odd-colored, irregular in outline with a black blot in the center.
Back home, she went to a doctor. After a biopsy, the results were definitive: melanoma. A few days later, April 6, she was in surgery, having the tumor removed. To be certain they’d get it all, doctors cut away part of her healthy skin, too, leaving a rather nasty and sore area on her leg about 4 x 4 inches, with both inner and outer stitches, six inches long. The good news is she did not need any radiation or chemotherapy because she had it checked early enough before it had a chance to spread. Melanoma is notorious for spreading fast if it’s not caught early enough.
When she first heard the diagnosis, all kinds of disturbing thoughts exploded in Beck-Sailer’s mind, one of the saddest is that she would never see her two young children grow up, graduate or get married.
Her husband, Jeff, did a copious amount of research, trying to reassure his wife all would be OK, but as he admitted later, he too was worried, naturally.
Beck-Sailer is a jailor at the Stearns County Jail. Her husband is the owner of Sailer Family Chiropractic in Sartell. They have two children – Brody, 6; and Brynn, 3.
Beck-Sailer, who describes herself as a highly competitive racer, said she could never participate in the Apple Duathlon as a leisurely, just-for-fun activity. She’d have to give the race her all, and with the rigorous biking and running, it would not be a good thing for her surgical wound, which is still healing.
She competed in the Apple four times. In 2013, she placed third in her age group.
“This year I’ll cheer the others on,” she said. “And I’m going to pass out sunscreen lotion at the SummerFest Mayor’s 5k race.”
Having had cancer can make a person very cancer-conscious. In Beck-Sailer’s case, she is determined to remind people about the importance of early self-detection, of noting carefully any changes on the skin, about the dangers of being in the sun too long without sunscreen – especially for light-complexioned people.
Although her mother is a breast-cancer survivor, Beck-Sailer said there has been no genetic predisposition to skin cancer in her family tree.
“It’s kind of a bummer I can’t compete this year,” she said. “I’m so competitive; I tend to push it. But it’s best to play on the safe side, for now anyway.”
For more about the Apple Duathlon, see related story.