Seventeen-year-old Kai Dunbar and her family are getting ready to celebrate her high school graduation. A major accomplishment by itself, but even more so given a life-threatening diagnosis she received when she was just nine years old.
"I had a mole on the right side of my face, and it started changing, so I told my mom about it," said Kai, a cancer survivor.
"It started to raise and it started to bleed and itch. We never thought that this was melanoma," said Kimberly Dunbar, Kai’s mom.
Doctors confirmed it was stage three skin cancer. The news stunned Kai’s mom.
"It never crossed our mind because she never played outside a lot. We were never out in the sun, so this was a fluke," said Kimberly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, incidents of skin cancer among Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are lower than in Caucasians. But research shows people of color, with cancer, tend to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage, leading to lower survival rates than the Caucasian population.
"Right now I'm in remission. I go once a year for checkups, x-rays, blood draws," said Kai.
She and her family are grateful for a positive outcome and hope others get the message.
"A lot of people think that you won't get it because of your skin color. Yes, you can get it," says Kimberly.
"You should still get checked. You should still watch for changes, watch how, watch how much sun you get when you leave, wear sunscreen, wear long sleeves, hats, protect yourself," said Kai.
The higher concentration of melanin in the skin of a darker person does provide some sun protection but doesn't protect them from skin cancer.
So being vigilant with sunscreen when outside is important, no matter what color your skin may be.