What began as a routine shower became a frightening experience for Eustis resident, Dean Simmons.
“My loofa sponge broke on the weekend and my wife was going to buy me a new one on Monday. When I was washing with my hands, I felt a bump on my inner thigh. And for some reason I didn't think it was right, so, I contacted my primary care physician and went in to see him, because I had a cyst several years prior to that experience,” said Simmons.
Upon his primary doctor’s recommendation, Simmons contacted AdventHealth Waterman Plastic Surgeon, Peter Marzek to remove what was diagnosed as a cyst.
After the procedure, Simmons said Dr. Marzek told him that he did not like the look of the cyst and that he had send it off to a lab for analysis.
After a lot of prayers and patience, the results came in and Simmons and his family received news that they did not want to hear. Simmons was diagnosed with Merkel-Cell Carcinoma, a rare form of skin cancer.
“Dr. Marzek told me that this cancer is very rare, and that he has only had five in his lifetime,” stated Simmons.
Simmons was baffled by his cancer diagnosis because he thought he had done everything right. “I always wear suntan lotion and have for a long time because I'm very fair complected,” said Simmons. “It was very surreal to get something that rare in a place where the sun never shines. I just thank God my sponge broke.”
Within two weeks, Simmons had another surgery at AdventHealth Waterman to remove any remnants of the cancer. He received 61 stitches in his thigh and 15 in his nearby lymph nodes. He was then referred to AdventHealth Waterman Radiation Oncologist, Anudh Jain. Although the growth was removed surgically, they wanted to make sure the cancer was completely cleared.
“I went in for radiation treatments 29 times. I would go every day, first thing in the morning. They would prep me, put me on the table, and administer a low dose of radiation for 20 seconds. The staff at the AdventHealth Waterman Cancer Institute were great. They had people out front to talk to before you went in every day. What I liked about it, too, was that I met a lot of people there that had cancer and I was able to become close with some of them,” Simmons stated.
During the recovery process, Simmons’ local print shop, Ford Press was run by his business partner, Rich Kelly. “I was out for several weeks straight. I would come in and work half days for about two months because I was still feeling the effects of surgery. Otherwise everything was great, and I couldn't ask for anything more,” Simmons said happily.
Today, Simmons is back to work full-time and enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his family and new grandson.
Simmons encourages everyone to get checked, not just for cancer, but for anything. “You need to get checked. We live in Florida and after being involved with this, there’s tons of people that can get skin cancer,” Simmons stated.
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