Amber Neben's off season got off to an unusual start following the World Championships in Stuttgart in September where she took fourth in the elite women's individual time trial. She was diagnosed and began treatment for melanoma.
"Earlier this year, I noticed a mole on the middle of my back. The more I looked at it, the more I thought it looked like it had the danger signs of asymmetry, irregular border, and an inconsistent color, and the more I thought I should get in to get it checked out," said Neben on www.amberneben.com.
The day after a dermatologist removed the questionable mole, Neben found out that pathologists diagnosed it as melanoma.
"The good news was that it was early and not very deep, but more would have to be cut out, and she wanted me to see a specialist to make sure it was not in the lymph nodes," said Neben, who found out later from her oncologist that her lymph nodes were clear.
Neben was set to undergo surgery Friday to remove an additional portion of skin surrounding the excision. With a cure rate of 99%, she approached the surgery optimistic about her recovery and for the 2008 season.
"The funny thing is that the mole was on my back in a place that is always covered!" said Neben. "I will now be training and racing in clothing, like my Skins, that has UV protection built in. I will also be even more vigilant with my sunscreen." She urged other cyclists to do the same.