Ilia J. Smith, a 40-year-old nurse practitioner in Dallas, never suspected she’d be confronted with a life-threatening health concern in her thirties. She was a medical professional. She ate well, worked out regularly. Sure, she spent a lot of time basking in the sun wearing low-SPF tanning oils, but as a Black woman, she wasn’t worried about sun protection.
Several years earlier, a friend of hers, who worked as a physician’s assistant in a dermatology practice, flagged a mole on her thigh during a day at the spa, but Smith brushed it off as a birthmark.