Why this woman is crediting her hairstylist with saving her life

Eileen Korey is a former health correspondent for WKYC TV in Cleveland. In the ’80s she was well-known for her mane of red hair — and she’s kept up her trademark look over the years with a little help from her hairstylist, Kari Phillips.

Phillips has been coloring and styling Korey’s hair for over a decade.

Kari Phillips discovered a mole on her client’s head and advised her to go to a dermatologist. (Photo: WKYC Channel 3)

“Because we take such little partings on our touchups and on our highlights, we can see pretty much the whole entire scalp,” Phillips told WKYC Channel 3. So when she noticed a suspicious mole on Korey’s hairline, she took action.

“It doesn’t look right. I don’t remember seeing it,” Phillips told Korey before advising her to go to a dermatologist to get it checked out. “And I knew she would take my advice.”

Korey’s dermatologist ordered a biopsy. (Photo: WKYC Channel 3)

Korey says that the mole appeared so fast she wouldn’t have even noticed it. “I wouldn’t have felt it, because it wasn’t raised. There was nothing to feel.”

She visited MetroHealth Medical Center dermatologist Pamela Davis, MD, who ordered a biopsy. The mole turned out to be melanoma.

“It was just at the skin level, the epidermis level, and it hadn’t infiltrated down,” Korey said. “If you’re going to have melanoma, it’s the best melanoma to have.”

Still, she credits Phillips for discovering the mole in the first place.

“You bought me time. You gave me the gift of life.”

According to Davis, hairstylists can be helpful in discovering skin cancers, especially underneath a head of hair.

According to dermatologist Pamela Davis, hairstylists can be helpful in discovering skin cancer, especially underneath a head of hair. ( Photo via WKYC Channel 3) 

“Not I, nor any of us, can really get through it all, so we ask our patients to try and remember to ask the stylist to look when the hair is wet,” she said.

As for Korey, she had surgery to remove the melanoma — although there was no chemo or radiation in her treatment because it was detected early. These days, she wears a hat when she ventures outside, but she hopes her story will help others be more aware.

“I wanted other people to know melanoma could be on the scalp and, No. 2, how your colorist could save your life.”

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