SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A majority of skin cancer deaths are caused by melanoma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The CDC says nearly 8,200 Americans died of melanoma in 2018.

Carla Hepp’s first experience with melanoma started in 2006 after she got a spot checked out on her foot.

The Sioux Falls woman received treatment, and thought she was okay.

Years later she started feeling sick and went to see doctors, but she couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

The Sioux Falls woman got her answer in late 2020.

“I got a phone call from oncology saying, ‘Carla, you need to come in.’ And that’s how I found out,” Patient Carla Hepp said.

The 59-year-old is currently living with stage 4 metastatic melanoma, a more advanced cancer than before.

“We could all get melanoma and the best way to treat it is to not ever get it,” Sanford medical oncologist Dr. Michelle Janania said.

Sanford medical oncologist Dr. Michelle Janania says people need to minimize their exposure to ultraviolet light, something that should start as early as childhood.

“We’ve got to take precautions. You’ve got to wear your sun block, you’ve got to wear protective clothing, consider hats, things like that,” Janania said.

Dr. Janania says people should use at least SPF 15 for daily use and at least SPF 30 for moderate or severe sun intensity.

She also advises against tanning beds.

Looking back, Hepp says there are things she could’ve done differently in her younger years.

She also has a history of skin cancer in her family.

“My biggest hope is that people take away from this and are more aware of what cancer can do. It’s not ‘They’re going to get it. She’s going to get it.’ We can all get it. It’s open to everybody at anytime,” Hepp said.

She’s hoping people will be proactive after hearing her story.