God commands us to keep ourselves healthy, for His worthy disciples tend to do more good when they are healthy and actively preaching His teachings than when they get caught up in preventable health issues. Corinthians 6 verses 19-20 says: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

In Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18, we read that, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

Jesus teaches us to take care of ourselves; not just of our bodies but also of our minds. He teaches in Proverbs 17 verse 22 that “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

When it comes to our health, we often ignore the warning signals our body gives us because we mistake them for something more common and non-fatal. We’re too busy to pay attention to them, but sometimes we are too scared to acknowledge that we may be suffering from a major illness that needs to be looked into as soon as possible. Some find it hard to believe but even the deadliest of diseases, especially the chronic ones, are usually preceded by warning signals. For example – fatigue, excessive sweating, and abnormal weight gain are some of cardiac problems.

Lisa Harrison Williams works in a popular nail salon. It’s the place several women come in on a regular basis to be pampered and beautified! They like hearing how beautiful they are looking after a spa session, or how colorful their nails look after a pedicure or manicure session. But smart and honest Lisa decided to go a step beyond just prettying her customer or allaying her worries with a simple explanation.

It all happened one day when she was working in the salon and a customer walked in with a strange request. There was a dark, prominent line that ran through her entire nail bed in one of her fingers. She wanted her nails painted in a shade dark enough to cover the line. Lisa looked at the line and was instantly worried. She probed the customer a little more and learned that different people had different explanations for this strange line. While some considered it to be a hereditary problem, some thought it just indicated a calcium deficiency. Apparently, the discoloration had been in the nail for a while! But none of the beauticians she had visited had ever indicated it to be a sign of a serious disease.

Lisa gathered her courage and decided to state her suspicions to the customer. She asked her to get the nail checked by a doctor right away. She stressed the importance of her doing so, as it was for her own good.

A few days later, the same customer had called Williams and shared the alarming news – the black line covering her nail bed was indeed a sign of skin cancer, also known as melanoma. The poor lady had been paying to get the discoloration coated over with colorful nail polish, never thinking she should get it checked out! But she is not to be blamed entirely. There are in fact very few people who know about the various forms of cancer.

Usually, people associate tumors or swellings with this disease. But here’s a simple explanation of it to help you understand it better: Our body has been created in such a way that it eliminates cells that haven’t been created correctly. It instead replenishes itself with fresh, correct cells. In some people though, the faulty cells are not removed and instead continue to multiply in numbers. They all replicate the ‘faulty’ cell, so we have a bunch of them sticking together to form a tumor.

But in this case, it was a very different type of cancer. Skin cancer rarely shows up in the form of tumors or swellings. The symptoms of this form of cancer are usually mistaken with other skin issues such as rashes, acne, and allergies. Most people do not recognize the moles or discolorations that occur in our skin or nails to be signs of cancer, and instead, consider them to be just minor aberrations.  It is precisely this reason which makes skin cancer such a deadly disease. By the time it gets detected, it usually too late for the patient to successfully beat cancer.

For this particular client of Williams, it was a case of subungual melanoma – a rare but aggressive form of melanoma. In this form of cancer, the vertical line gradually expands from the nail bed to the tissues and skin surrounding the nail. Other signs of this form of cancer can be brittle nails, cracked nails, and bleeding at those places where pigmentation has been found.

Melanoma is usually caused due to prolonged and unprotected exposure to the sun. But this form of melanoma is an exception; it is considered to have mainly formed because of injuries or traumas that a person may have suffered from. The incidence of it appearing in darker-skinned adults has been found to be higher than that in people with lighter skin tones. It usually afflicts middle-aged people. Williams decided to let the world know of her experience with her client so that others do what’s necessary and get themselves checked.

There are indeed people with discolored or dry nails who suffer from other diseases and not cancer. But, it is better to get such abnormalities checked so that any issues can be detected and treated while they are still in the early stages. So keep an eye out on your nail beds of your fingers and toes, and those of your loved ones too!