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Ken Laney: Living a More "Grateful" Life After Skin Cancer

Ken Laney

“I’m grateful for the care I received. I’m grateful for the nurses. I’m grateful to have ended up with a good outcome. I am grateful for all that I have.”

Ken Laney

When you receive a cancer diagnosis, “grateful” typically isn’t the first word that comes to mind, but for Ken Laney, 66, the sentiment has been an integral theme throughout his cancer journey.

A Florida native, Ken spent many long days at the beach getting burned by the sun. As the pastor at Live Oak Baptist Church in Gatesville, Texas, Ken has had many encounters with congregants who were diagnosed with cancer, but when his daughter pointed out an unusual spot on his ankle, his family never imagined Ken would be diagnosed with a superficial spreading and nodular melanoma.

"It stopped me in my tracks"

After Ken’s primary care doctor thought the spot was eczema in 2020, he was referred to a dermatologist who took a biopsy just to be safe. After a week, the results came back, and Ken’s life was changed. “It stopped me in my tracks.”

The next day, his dermatologist referred him to a surgical oncologist at Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists—Central Austin. Ken was immediately scheduled to see Christopher R. Oxner, M.D., FACS, USN, who has a special interest in skin-related malignancies.

"I wanted it gone"

“It’s important to know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and in many cases, it is easily preventable by limiting exposure to the sun’s harmful rays,” said Dr. Oxner. “Texas ranks third in the nation for newly diagnosed cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

Following a full examination and definitive diagnosis of melanoma, Dr. Oxner recommended surgery to remove Ken’s cancerous spot, as well as the removal of a few lymph nodes in his leg to investigate if the cancer had spread.

"I wanted it gone! The sooner the better,” said Ken.

"Blessed to have these men care for me"

Ken had three total surgeries to remove his melanoma. Because the surgical area was approximately the size of a baseball and too deep to simply be sewn back up, Dr. Oxner teamed up with a plastic surgeon to help address Ken's wound.

In March 2021, after receiving an all-clear of any signs of cancer, Ken saw the plastic surgeon to receive a skin graft to replace the skin that was removed during surgery.

“I’m very happy with both of my physicians,” he said. “When it comes to your health, that’s what’s important. I’m very blessed to have these men care for me.”

"Advocate for yourself and your health"

The most valuable piece of advice Ken can give to anyone is the importance of advocating for yourself and taking an active role in your own care.

“If you have a suspicious spot, insist on a biopsy,” he said. “I wish I had pushed harder for that in the beginning.”

When it comes to skin cancer prevention, the most important aspect is sun protection over the course of a lifetime.

"I am grateful"

“The impact of what I’ve gone through won’t slip away easily,” said Ken. “This was a wakeup call, and I want to stay awake.”

Ken is grateful for many things as he reflects on his experience.

“I’m grateful for the care I received. I’m grateful for the nurses. I’m grateful to have ended up with a good outcome. I am grateful for all that I have,” he said.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.