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Sheliah’s story: Don’t postpone regular check-ups

Sheliah

Sheliah Crawford lives in Blairsville, Georgia, with her husband, Gary. Both are employed with the Union County School System, and they share three sons — Garran, Cody and Tyler. Sheliah regards her four grandchildren as "the best medicine." In fact, it was her granddaughter, Zoe, who encouraged her to visit the doctor in June 2023 regarding a growing spot on her back that wouldn’t heal. 

Sheliah - ZoeA biopsy was performed on the spot, as well as on an irritating mole under Sheliah’s left arm. Results came back indicating basal cell carcinoma and melanoma (stage 0), respectively. Thus, Sheliah’s cancer journey began. 

Sheliah was referred to Dr. Nicole Kounalakis at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) Melanoma & Skin Cancer Program. 

"Dr. Kounalakis suggested I start targeted therapy for a few months to shrink the basal cell; I also had Moh's surgery on the mole under my arm," Sheliah recounted. 

Since Blairsville is a two-hour drive from Atlanta, Dr. Kounalakis referred Sheliah to NHCI Georgia Cancer Specialists right in her hometown. 

“This was a godsend,” she said. 

Sheliah expressed gratitude, saying, "Everything seemed to fall into place after my first visit with Dr. Aaron Schueneman and his nurse Lacye Arrant. What an amazing team of nurses and staff!" 

Sheliah was prescribed the drug ERIVEDGE® for her cancer treatment. Over the next five months, she diligently took her medication and had follow-up visits with both Dr. Kounalakis and Dr. Schueneman. Despite experiencing a few side effects, Sheliah remained thankful that the regimen worked. 

When blood work revealed severe anemia, Sheliah received a blood transfusion at her local hospital, followed by weekly IV iron infusions at NHCI Georgia Cancer Specialists in Blairsville. 

"During this journey, I had an amazing support team," Sheliah acknowledged. "My family, friends and work associates all rallied around me to ensure I had everything I needed." 

On Jan. 11, Sheliah underwent surgery to remove the basal cell. Dr. Kounalakis and plastic surgeon Dr. Lindsey Webb performed the surgery at Northside Hospital Atlanta. "My surgery was a success, and I was sent home with a wound vac," Sheliah recalled. "After 11 weeks of having the wound vac, I healed amazingly well. So well that I don't need reconstructive surgery or skin grafts. 

"I would highly recommend Northside.” 

Sheliah - FamilyThough still in the process of healing, Sheliah receives regular check-ins from home health. "I want to thank my husband for taking such good care of me from day one, my family for their unwavering support and love, my neighbors and work associates for their acts of kindness, and most importantly, I give God the glory for his healing power and for the knowledge bestowed upon these amazing doctors," Sheliah acknowledged. "It is so good to know that I am cancer-free!" 

With a newfound lease on life, Sheliah looks forward to embracing every moment. "I have another chance to live life to the fullest, to watch my grandchildren play sports, to take walks with my husband, to visit with friends again and to simply enjoy life in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia," she said. 

Sheliah’s advice to others? "Don’t postpone routine check-ups with your dermatologist. Take care of your skin and yourself! There’s only one you." 


Learn more about the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Melanoma & Skin Cancer Program.

 

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