Niagara Gazette — Paula Yarger is a triumphant woman. Strong-willed and full of a survivor’s instinct, she sits next to her husband, James Yarger, on their couch in their Town of Niagara home one Saturday. They’re taking a much-deserved break.
They’d spent a few days preparing their house for professional painters, while at the same time beginning work on creating a new, special room inside for an exciting package on the way.
Yarger, 41, is seven months pregnant with the couple’s first child.
She’s thrilled to be pregnant, a minor miracle considering her age and the biology of women’s reproductive lifespans. But considering how she and her husband arrived at this point, minor is the last word she’d use to describe her life.
It all goes back to the summer of 2006, when the 34-year-old retail worker noticed an unusual growth forming on the side of her face. She’d recently had a mole surgically removed from the exact spot months before. Something told her she needed to get it checked out.
“Everyone told me not to worry, that it’s probably an infection, it’s probably a keloid,” she said. “They removed it. Afterward, I called them because no one called me, and (Dr. Thom Loree) said, ‘Pauline, can you come in?’ I said ‘No, I’m at work,’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry Pauline, it’s melanoma.’ “
She had a rough time taking the news, considering it’s the most dangerous type of skin cancer, but scheduled a lymph nodal biopsy immediately.
The news only got worse when she did get in to see her doctor. Her life was about to change for the next half-decade.
“He walked in the room with his head down,” Paula said. “I’m staring at him. He said, ‘Well, the good news is, it’s out of your face. The bad news is, it’s in your central lymph node.’ I said, ‘What does this mean?’ He said ‘50/50.’ “