World Aerobatic Pilot Knows Every Second Counts

While participating in the Red Bull Air Race World Series, professional air show pilot Kirby Chambliss noticed a mole on his shoulder changing in shape and size. Because he was overseas at the time, Kirby was unable to see his doctor until he returned to the States one month later.  It was then that Kirby found out he had skin cancer. Kirby’s wife, Kellie, who was with him throughout the ordeal, was not surprised by the diagnosis.

“I was surprised at how quickly the mole grew and knew we needed to do something fast,” stated Kellie.

And Kirby’s no stranger to moving fast. In his Edge 540 aircraft, it’s just another day at the office to be pulling 10 G’s and flying at speeds upwards of 400 miles per hour. An aggressive pilot, always out for the number one spot, Kirby’s motto is, ‘If you’re second place, it’s just the first loser.’

The couple recognized that same need-for-speed when addressing the concerns about Kirby’s health. Courtesy of their quick response, treatment was minimal and recovery was quick. A football-shaped region was removed from Kirby’s shoulder and chemotherapy, an extremely taxing treatment that would have easily compromised his aviation career, was unnecessary. Kellie realizes that, much like in one of Kirby’s races, every second counts:

“Do I need to say how fortunate we were? The main idea was that it was handled in a timely manner… [It] should have been looked at even faster, but we were traveling at the time. A few weeks can make all the difference in the world,” added Kellie.

Today, Kirby is cancer free but the experience has changed the couple forever. Kellie remarks that the experience served as somewhat of a wake-up call and their entire lifestyle has been affected:

“We have changed the way we eat and are very careful about the things we are exposed to in the environment. We are always looking to rid our bodies of toxins and heavy metals, etc. I think it is important to keep the load on your body as minimal as possible, and by that, I mean emotionally, physically, and environmentally! All of these things work together and cannot be overlooked. If you look at cancer as one-dimensional, then you’re kidding yourself.”

Kirby continues to dominate the skies and both he and Kellie are incredibly grateful that they were able to catch his skin cancer in time. The moral of the story is summed up in a few poignant words Kellie remembers her grandmother saying when she was a child; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

For more information on how to prevent skin cancer and recommended screenings, visit the American Cancer Society.