Friday, May 23, 2014

The one with the mole

It was the check-up I'd been meaning to have - the skin care scan.
I usually do this every six months to a year or so, thanks to a family history of melanoma, fair skin, freckles, and a fairly outdoorsy lifestyle.
But I'd been putting it off, as you do, because I've been busy, and I don't particularly like stripping off and exposing practically every inch of my body to someone I don't know very well. (Ahem).
But at a recent family gathering, three members of my family were looking pretty beaten up. One had a large plaster on her forehead after having a cancerous mole removed. My brother had a nasty-looking nose which was being treated too, and another relative had endured the burning off of sunspots on what seemed to be most of his face and head.
It was a wake-up call that regular skin checks are essential in Australia, and I was overdue for mine.
It was great that the lovely doctor had a student joining her for my scan, so two people got to see me in the near nicky-nude.
But they were both female and made me feel comfortable. 
I was worried about a couple of marks on my face and decolletage, but the doctor bypassed them to focus on a mole on my shoulder. It was different to the others on my skin, and she photographed it to show me.
It had an irregular border and a couple of different colours, so she thought it was best to remove it just in case.
I'm a bit of a sook, so it was inconvenient, but I thought nothing of it. I've had a few moles removed in the past, and quite a few suspicious spots burnt off.
I had a pretty sore shoulder for a few days - and later a very itchy one - and was aching to get the stitches out when I got the call to go back in.
The bad news was that the mole was a melanoma. The good news was we had found it early, and it was still small enough to be treated by simply getting rid of it. The doctor just had to go back in and chop away a bit more of my shoulder to be sure she had removed all the nasty stuff.
I have quite a few more stitches in my shoulder now, and I'm pretty sure there will be a bit of a scar, but I'm pleased it's all been dealt with quickly and easily. And unless something unpleasant shows up at the lab, that should be the end of it.
But I wondered what would have happened if I hadn't had my wake-up call a few weeks earlier? As it was it took me a few weeks to get an appointment, so I was lucky I acted promptly. I certainly hadn't noticed any changes (the melanoma was on my shoulder after all), so it was lucky that my relatives' experiences shook me up enough to book an appointment. 
These days there are so many scans, tests, screenings and check-ups we can have to keep healthy, but how often do we put them off because we're busy? Especially mothers, because we tend to look after everyone else's health and put our own last.
And yet, how would our kids cope if we weren't around to be there for them? If Mum falls apart, the whole family tends to struggle.
No one can help getting sick, but we can at least take advantage of every preventative and/or screening technology available to us.
As for my skin, I'll need to go every three months for check-ups from now on, and it will be another reminder to wear sunscreen daily.
If you've got any moles or spots you're concerned, you can go here for more information. (Thanks to the Australasian College of Dermatologists). But if in any doubt, see your doctor! 
We have so much more to lose than just a little skin.


Char said...

I'm so glad you went in and got checked.

Bec said...

Motivated me to go and get a check! Glad you found it :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh my goodness Bronnie! That's terrible that it was a melonoma but good to know that you caught it. I'm definitely having a test! :o

Fiona said...

way overdue to my check. thanks for the reminder. I'm glad yours worked out okay!

Maxabella said...

OMG, I'm glad you're ok. I'm booking a full body scan immediately. x

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone. I've since had a BCC removed. It was on my chest, right where my seat belt goes, so was ouchy. And the doctor is watching another mole on my shoulder which is below the last melanoma. It's certainly worth keeping on top of these things. So far my face is just freckly!