Gemma Cottom was fifteen years old when she got a pimple on the side of her face that turned into a mole. Thinking she was doing the right thing, she went to a dermatologist to have it checked out. She was told she had nothing to worry about; removing it was optional. The procedure sounded a little scary, so Gemma let it go, thinking all would be fine.
Years later, she decided to finally have it removed. It took several weeks to get the biopsy results. That seemingly harmless pimple was actually cancer. Stage two melanoma. And now she was going to have to have three centimeters of skin around it removed, in case the cancer was starting to spread, plus a biopsy of her lymph nodes.
The news worsened. Not only had the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, now she was in stage three.
Now she needed to have another procedure done. This one caused her to suffer nerve damage.
Gemma now has scarring on her face that attracts a lot of unwanted stares from strangers. But she wears them proudly and uses them as tool for educating others, in hopes that no one else will have to suffer the same ordeal.