A thank you for a life saved in 1990
Mark Albrecht says it doesn’t matter if this article is about him or not, though he did commit the newsworthy act of thanking my newspaper recently for saving his life 27 years ago.
What he wants most is for us to publish a photo of what skin cancer looks like. Maybe that could save other lives.
Cancer.org says this: “Melanomas are usually brown or black, but some can appear pink, tan, or even white. Some melanomas have areas with different colors, and they might not be round like normal moles.”
In the spring of 1990, The Milwaukee Journal ran an article about skin cancer and included color images of skin malignancies. Mark saw it.
“One in particular caught my attention — the deadly melanoma. I had a spot on my forearm that was suspiciously two-tone in pink and brown, which matched the melanoma in the picture,” he wrote in an email to Journal Sentinel Editor George Stanley that found its way to me.
The small growth didn’t hurt or itch, but Mark soon went to a dermatologist, who removed and biopsied it. The doctor said if Mark had let it go, it would have metastasized through his lymph system to the liver, lungs and brain, probably killing him within a year.
“Had I not read that article, my tombstone would have read: Mark Albrecht, 1947-1991,” he wrote.
I called Mark to ask why he had waited so long to share his story. He admitted to procrastination, but said there was something about turning 70 this year that put life and eternity into sharper focus.
“I’d just be a distant memory in the minds of my friends. It’s so ironic to think about life that way. But here I am, and I’ve had a very full life since then. I have a degree in theology, so I really think about these things on a spiritual level,” he told me.
That degree is from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Mark went on to a career researching and writing on human rights issues, especially religious liberty. He became international executive director of Lutheran Mideast Development and has traveled to more than 50 countries.
He was born in Milwaukee, adopted as a baby and raised in Elm Grove. Living now on Milwaukee’s east side and single, Mark is enjoying retirement.
And he’s feeling thankful for the extra 26 years he got. Newspapers these days could use a little life-saving of their own, but he believes the Journal literally saved his. This was his only brush with cancer.
What he’s hoping is that you won’t delay if any moles on your body match these scary photos.
Melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, can begin as a new small, pigmented skin growth on normal skin.