Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
March 11, 2024 ·  3 min read

A stranger noticed Jackie Briggs’ birthmark. It saved her life

Have you ever read about a stranger saving someone’s life? There are good people out there in the world who genuinely just want to help. This could come in many forms. One woman was very lucky to experience this up close when a complete stranger pointed out something odd about her birthmark, and it saved her life.

Jackie Briggs worked 60 hours a week in a high-pressure IT job. She decided to visit a women’s health conference as she needed to find a way to unwind and do something other than slave away at her demanding job, which was, at the time, probably wrecking her mental and physical health.

Jackie Briggs - a woman who survived a birthmark that tuned out to be a melanoma
Image Credit: Jackie Briggs | NPR

Jackie had a rose-shaped birthmark on her upper arm

Jackie had decided to wear a sleeveless dress on this particular day, which revealed the rose-shaped birthmark on her upper arm. “This lovely dark-haired woman came up to me and she said, ‘Excuse me, but I can’t help but notice your arm,’” Briggs remembers. The woman asked her if she’d ever seen a dermatologist, urging her to do so as soon as possible.

Briggs assured her that she had been before and that there was no need for alarm. “She pressed me and said, ‘When?’ I had to stop to think. I counted back … and it had been over three years.” It was then that the woman got rather anxious, urging Briggs to call her doctor as soon as possible.

The stranger explained that she was a nurse at a plastic surgeon’s office and that she had seen this type of thing before. She gently reached out, held Jackie’s arm, and said “Really, don’t wait.” Briggs took this advice seriously and made sure to follow up with her dermatologist – this decision she had made based on a total stranger’s advice has saved her life.

Read: Woman, 27, dies from cervical cancer after symptoms were mistaken for IBS

The birthmark turned out to be a melanoma – an aggressive form of skin cancer

“If I hadn’t listened to her, I probably wouldn’t be here,” Briggs said. Melanomas are terrifying – being the fastest-moving and deadliest forms of skin cancer, she had no time to waste. She underwent the surgery and had the entire melanoma removed. A procedure that left a massive scar – something to remember the horrible ordeal by. “My six-inch ragged scar that travels almost from the top of my shoulders down my arm is my everyday reminder of her… my guardian angel,” she said.

Jackie has since finished writing her first novel

Happily retired and feeling a lot healthier overall, Jackie finally got to finishing her novel. It was an unsung hero that saved her life and she was not about to let the ordeal keep her from rising up, taking back control, and speaking out about her life.

jackie Briggs with her scar from her birthmark
Image Credit: Jackie Briggs | NCPR

She now hosts a podcast called My Unsung Hero, which sees episodes released every Tuesday and Thursday. You can share your stories here about people who hanged your life for the better with the Hidden Brain team. It’s simple – record a voice memo on your phone and forward it to [email protected].

Keep Reading: Woman shocked to discover tiny dots on skin were a sign of something worse.