Everyone who knows Shari Bisgaard will tell you that she's determined, able to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. As an elite athlete, she's used to challenges. Used to staring them in the face. And winning.
When she faced cancer in 2011, it was the challenge of her life.
Shari noted a spot on her chest and went to an out-of-town clinic where she was treated for an infection. Over a year, the spot grew. Some good friends told her to get a second opinion, so she went to a different clinic where they told her it wasn't an infection. Then they took a biopsy.
Shari Bisgaard, who has challenged herself as an athlete, met the challenge of her life when she found she had cancer.
Photo by Michael Tidemann
Shari remembers being in the office - by herself - when she heard the results.
"The word cancer kind of puts a lump in your throat," she said when she learned she had basal cell carcinoma - which can lead to melanoma.
Shari was sent on to Sioux Falls just before Christmas 2012 where she had her first same-day procedure. Other spots were found, and procedures were performed in four places on her chest, back and face.
She was lucky. No chemo or radiation was needed.
What she learned from all of that, though, was that she wants people to be aware that skin cancer can be just as bad as any other form of cancer.
As a fitness trainer and Advocare consultant, Shari is always concerned about her clients' health. Her doctor told her too that it helped that she was in good shape as she faced her cancer. She believes that a healthy lifestyle with healthy nutrition is key in fighting cancer.
So the key question is what could she have done differently. At what point could Shari have stayed out of the sun.
Well, when she was growing up, sunscreens weren't really thought of - and her doctor said a lot of cancers form from youthful sunburns. Sunscreens are now widely available, of course - if people would just use them.
So what other advice would she have?
"It's just being aware," Shari said. Now she gets yearly checkups - something she urges her family to do as well.
Under her doctor's recommendation, she goes in every six months. If she sees something out of the ordinary, she goes in more frequently.
"Everyone should be getting checked for skin cancer," said Shari, adding that yearly physicals are a good idea too. And if something is found, well, then they can deal with it.
"It's all an awareness and taking care of yourself," Shari said.
She tries to teach her clients to quite virtually go back to the earth for their food. Whether it's having a garden or going to the local farmer's market, Shari believes that fresh and unprocessed food helps prevent high blood pressure and cholesterol.
She's also always tried to educate her clients about nutrition.
"As a trainer we have to look at all those read flags," she said.
And she also looks out for herself.
"I just know that I have to put suncreen on when I go out," Shari said.