When a hairdresser looked down at her client’s scalp, she noticed something wasn’t right. After making the critical discovery, she said 4 words that saved the woman’s life. Now, the ladies are issuing a warning that everyone should read before their next trip to the salon.
Eileen Korey was the WKYC Channel 3 Health Reporter in Cleveland, Ohio, throughout the 80s and 90s. Although she’s since moved on, the former health correspondent soon discovered she had one more story to tell after a life-changing chain of events was set off by an appointment to her colorist.
As WKYC explains, Korey’s red locks were legendary. That’s why she never missed a monthly appointment with her colorist, Kari Phillips. What Korey didn’t realize is how her strict regimen of haircare at the salon would save her life.
Every month, Korey sits in Phillips’ salon chair as the colorist parts small sections of hair, touching up the roots. This gives Phillips a good look at Korey’s scalp once a month. But, one appointment didn’t end like all the rest. As Phillips was applying the color, she divided a section of hair and saw something she hadn’t seen before.
Luckily for Korey, Phillips’ sister is a dermatological nurse, and since hairdressers have a unique opportunity to see the entire scalp as they take such small sections of hair for highlights and touch-ups, she always stressed to Kari how important it was to be on the lookout for odd moles and markings on her clients. So, when Phillips, who had been coloring Korey’s hair for fifteen years, noticed something odd on her client’s scalp, she spoke up.
Noticing a dark mark that wasn’t there the month prior, Phillips quickly told Korey, “This doesn’t look right,” and advised her client to make an appointment with her dermatologist. Little did they know then, Phillips had likely just saved Korey’s life because what the colorist saw on her client’s scalp was deadly melanoma.
“We can see pretty much the whole entire scalp,” Phillips explained before recalling the day Korey sat in her chair with a mark that wasn’t there the month before. “It doesn’t look right, I don’t remember seeing it. And, I want you, obviously, to go to your dermatologist and look at it,” she told Korey. Following Phillips’ advice, Korey made an appointment with MetroHealth dermatologist Pam Davis, who did a biopsy of the spot.
Although the results came back positive for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, thanks to Phillips, it was caught early. The colorist likely saved Korey’s life by paying attention and not hesitating to speak up. She also showed just how quickly melanoma can creep up on an unsuspecting person since it took less than one month for the area to develop.
Luckily, Korey’s melanoma had not had a chance to infiltrate below the scalp and remained at skin level. Although she needed surgery to remove the spot, she did not have to face chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The only change she had to make to her routine was adding a hat to her wardrobe when she’s in the sun since she’s now at higher risk of developing skin cancer again.
Because Korey’s life was saved by a hairdresser who paid attention, she wanted to tell her story to encourage other hair stylists and their clients to take advantage of the fact that the salon can be the first line of defense in finding skin cancer on the scalp.
“I would not have seen this. I would not have felt it because it wasn’t raised. There was nothing to feel,” Korey said. Her doctor agrees that it’s extremely important for stylists and aestheticians to be on the lookout, and clients should ask their cosmetologist to check their scalp while their hair is wet, which is when unusual moles would be easier to find.
Who knew you could get so much more than just a haircut or color at the salon — as long as your hairdresser has a watchful eye? Sadly, not enough stylists realize this important opportunity, nor do clients know to ask. This information is vital. So, spread the word.
This story proves how important it is to pay attention when you are doing your job. Had Phillips not been so observant, Korey might not be here to share this critical information with others. Pay attention, and speak up! It could save a life.