Thursday, September 20, 2012

Skin Cancer Scare- Check Yourself

The last few weeks have been crazy. Absolutely nuts, and it included another cancer scare. Here's my story.

I decided to take advantage of a free skin cancer screening at a local dermatologist. Honestly, this was not something I was leaping at the opportunity to take, but something I felt that I should do. I had a birth mark on my hip that was there since I was a kid. It was starting to look funny. So much so, that my husband was poking fun at it.

Since the mailer came, I've been thinking of calling, and procrastinating. Finally, I bit the bullet and just made the appointment.

I showed her the spot on my hip, and a raised beauty mark on my arm. She wasn't that thrilled with the spot on my leg- it had all of the components of skin cancer: multiple colors, irregular shape, edges that faded, texture. She did a full exam, and found another, very small, round beauty mark on my shoulder blade.. almost by where my bra strap sits. Under the light that she had, she thought it looked different shades of color, too. She wanted to biopsy all three of them.

I went in on Monday, the 17th to get the biopsies done. I was told it could take 1-2 weeks, but sometimes, only a day or two. The assistant laughed and said, "now that I told you that, I'm sure it will take closer to two". Although she giggled, I did not. I had peace with the whole situation, but was still a little nervous. They gave me a phone number to check, and told me that they only call "if it's something" or closer to that two week mark.

I got a phone call the next day. I almost threw up.

The spot on my hip, thank God, was fine. The arm, fine. The shoulder blade, a spot that to me and my husband looked like a regular old beauty mark was precancerous. Not cancer, but precancerous. Still too close for comfort. She wanted to have me come in for a mini-surgery, where they take three times the width, and three times the depth to go completely skin deep. The purpose was to remove any cells that may or may not have been affected. I made the appointment for Wednesday.

The surgery went well. One to two stitches became 7ish. I don't have a before picture, but I have an after- this was after the bandage fell off Wednesday night. It's a little red, because of the anesthetic, and the fact that the bandage ripped off, while I was attempting to change my shirt.

It hurts a little, tingly, and sore. I asked her to look at one other spot that was covered by undergarments at the first appointment, that I didn't even think to show her, that she wants to biopsy when I get my stitches out, because she doesn't like that one, either.

The moral of this story. Go get checked out. I don't know how to tell you if it is skin cancer or not. There are sites that tell you warning signs, but mine- to my and my husband- looked like a normal birthmark. The fact that it was precancerous was a good thing. The bad news is, is that if I would have left it until I was 40 or 50, it probably would have been cancer.

Checking your body every month is a great way to notice if things have changed or look different in any way. Check your spouse. Have your spouse check you. Face it, you can't see every spot. A dermatologist can, though. Early detection is the best fight against cancer.




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