• ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
Driver issuesNewsTrucking

Trucking veteran Ingrid Brown shares cancer journey to save others

The 40-year trucking veteran is a tireless advocate for the trucking industry and uses humor and honesty to share her cancer story to save others.

Ingrid Brown, a 40-year trucking veteran from Zionville, North Carolina, is a tireless advocate for the trucking industry. 

Since being diagnosed with melanoma in 2017, Brown, an independent owner-operator with more than 4 million miles under her belt, has been sharing her skin cancer journey and advocating for others to get regular checkups and screenings.

On June 1, 2017, Brown said she was headed to Houston, Texas, in her beloved 2017 389 Peterbilt named “Miss Faith,” when she received the call from her doctor confirming her cancer diagnosis. He wanted her to come to his office in Chicago the next day. 

“I told him that I was on the road and still had eight or nine drops, wouldn’t be back for about eight days and that I would call him back when I returned home,” Brown told FreightWaves. 

“My doctor was like, ‘Do you realize you have cancer and need to have surgery as soon as possible,’” she said. 

A little over a week later, Brown flew to Chicago for melanoma surgery on her side but was back on the road three weeks later. Nine months later she underwent major throat surgery to remove more cancer but again took little time off to recover.

She said that’s how she’s wired. 

Brown said she’s been involved in the trucking industry since she was 18, first working for her dad’s construction company.

“Yes, there have been times that have been hard, but I’m not angry,” she said. “I view this as a journey to educate and help others. If I can save just one person, then this all has been worth it.”

Over the past three years, Brown has undergone eight surgeries to remove cancerous spots. Her latest surgery was on Feb. 12,  to remove melanoma from her lip and leg, which she shared on her Facebook page. 

Ingrid Brown shares photos of her melanoma journey. Photo: Ingrid Brown

“It’s important that people know this could happen to them and to get checked,” she said.

On Feb. 12, Ingrid Brown had surgery to remove melanoma from her lip and leg. This is the eighth surgery she has undergone to remove cancerous spots since her diagnosis in 2017. Photo: Ingrid Brown

Why truckers should wear sunscreen?

The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that more than 5 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. 

Brown said truck drivers’ risks of getting skin cancer “skyrocket” because of their prolonged exposure to UV rays as the sun shines on the left side of the cab.  

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine documented a truck driver whose left side of his face was severely damaged by the sun. 

Since her diagnosis, she said other truck drivers have come forward with their own melanoma diagnoses or sent messages that they went to get checked because of her story.

“That’s what this is all about, educating others in this industry,” Brown said.

“Watch and wait”

Every three months Brown said she sees her dermatologist for a full checkup and gets a CT scan every six months, but admits she worries daily that another spot or sore will pop up.

“The watch-and-wait game is hard, probably the hardest thing in the world,” Brown said. “Sometimes I go to bed and can’t sleep because I worry that another spot will pop up, but I have to remind myself that I am tough and I’ve got this.”

Brown said she recently went to her eye doctor to have her vision checked when her optometrist noticed she had a “brown spot” on the retina in her left eye. She is being monitored “as a concern” for ocular melanoma and she has to see a specialist every two months.

Unfortunately, Brown said melanoma runs in her family. Her grandfather, who was a truck driver, died of it, as well as her aunt. Her brother also has been diagnosed with melanoma and is undergoing treatment.

Surviving cancer diagnosis as a small-business trucker

As the sole owner of Rollin’ B LLC, which hauls refrigerated freight, Brown said she doesn’t make money unless her truck is moving. Having a rainy day fund set aside in case of an emergency has helped her business survive over the past three years. 

However, many small-business owners are forced to shut down after a cancer diagnosis.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’m not going to quit,” Brown said. “I’ve tried to set myself up with good business practices before this cancer diagnosis ever hit and  I’ve made it this far.”

“Truckers in this industry have been generous and bought T-shirts to help pay some of my expenses after my first surgery, which was amazing,” she said. 

Brown will speak about her cancer diagnosis and operating her own trucking company at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show in late March in Louisville, Kentucky.

As a final reminder, Brown said May is Melanoma Awareness Month and some dermatologists will conduct free screenings around the country.

“If I can save one person, this will all be worth it to me,” she said.

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes

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Clarissa Hawes, Senior Editor, Investigations and Enterprise

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and Trucks.com. Clarissa lives in the Kansas City area with her family. If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to chawes@freightwaves.com.

10 Comments

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  2. Hello
    I’m a truck driver that has prostrate cancer. I was diagnosed on October 21 , 2018
    The problem is that after 5 yrs old Dominion freight Line
    Fired me on February 28 2019. For illegally hitting 3 small cone’s in a blizzard, now I have no insurance to get treatment.
    So now thanks to old Dominion I will probably die of a curable cancer

  3. My name is Mary. I was diagnosed with stage 1 melanoma in January this year. So far I’ve only had one spot removed. The doctor says my body is fighting it off naturally. It hasn’t metastasized or spread to any other places on my skin. I feel very blessed, but still scared it might come back. My oldest brother passed away in 2014 due to o melanoma. He was the first one in my family to be diagnosed with it. I’m the second person now. It’s hard to stay positive sometimes. But I know I’ll be alright. I’m a strong and positive person. I just say ok, I’ve got cancer. Let’s do what ever I have to do to beat this thing. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m going to be fine. So for anyone else going through the same thing, just stay positive. Know there are support groups to help you through this. Sometimes it really helps to talk to someone who is or has been through the same thing you’re going through right now.

      1. Heyyyyyy Nelson my apologies for taking all week to respond. For Me it wasn’t a mole. It seemed as a sun spot or an age spot. Mine began on the lower left of my stomach and I didn’t think it was anything at first but it just was discolored. I wasn’t knowledgeable of Melanoma or the other two skin cancers to know what to look for. Over about 6 months it grew to look like a perfect puzzle piece and had and is what triggered me to go too the dermatologist. I felt tired but nothing out of the normal which is usual for us otr drivers. Upon going to the dermatologist he did a shaved biopsy that determined Melanoma. Since then I’ve had several various shapes and colors that have been squamous cell melanoma in numerous places of my body. Always check them all! Melanoma doesn’t discriminate! The places exposed to sunlight and even those that haven’t are ready prey for anyone. Thoughts and prayers. You got this 😉

        1. Hi Ingrid this is your Friend big Brother Eddie Texasson Conrad , I just Read your story about your cancer , I want you to know I’m very proud to know your doing well , I have been diagnosed with Crohes , your welcome to contact me.😀

    1. You’re a fighter and a warrior when it comes to Melanoma! Thank you for sharing and thru you and others we can spread the word. Melanoma ISN’T just Skin Cancer and it DOES kill!! I wish you best and you’re in my prayers and thoughts. Please if you need too talk you can find me on FB Ingrid Brown. It’s by staying in touch we heal and accept recurrences. My grandfather passed away as well as my aunt from Melanoma. But I know you got this!!! The cliche Nobody fights alone is actually true!!! God bless and keep your chin up 😉🙂

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