Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Skin, checked: all clear

The month of March was "Melanoma March" in some circles; the month to raise awareness about skin cancer and melanoma. I was involved in producing a filmed interview of a woman who had survived stage 4 melanoma and hearing her story gave me just the nudge I needed to speak to my GP about a skin check.

I'd never had a skin check, despite having reasonably fair skin and growing up in the sun. I'm now very aware and careful of the sun and wear sunscreen daily. I'd watched family members deal with various kinds of skin cancers (not melanoma) and still had not done anything.

I'm not a very "moley" person. I don't have that many, but I'd noticed a couple of new ones lately and also had one on my arm that was small, but it was raised; I could feel it when I ran my finger over that part of my arm.

My GP checked and said that she thought they were okay but referred me to a dermatologist for a more thorough check. Her concern about the moles was that they were new. I learnt that new moles after the age of about 30 need to be watched. Then she asked me what the bump on the side of my nose was.

"I don't know. Just a bump. Isn't it from wearing glasses?"

She looked at me like I had an IQ of 25 and said she wanted to take a sample. I then had the choice of just watching the other two and making a decision later, or having them off all together now. I opted to get rid of them.

The worst part of the procedures was the injection of the local anaesthetic - especially the one at the top of my nose, right near my eye.
The dressing was worse than the biopsy.
© 2014 divacultura

"I don't know how doctors can do injections like that," I said, trying to make conversation to distract from the horrible sting and pain I was feeling.

"I don't know how you write scripts and produce films," she replied.

Fair enough. Good answer! It didn't make the pain go away.

About 8 minutes later I had a big dressing on the side of my nose and waterproof dressings on my arm. The samples were housed in their own separate jar of liquid and looked innocuous.

Today I received the official letter telling me everything about these three specks of skin. It contains words like "ectactic", "fibroblasts", "dysplastic" and "lentiginous".  The word "malignancy" appeared several times. Thankfully it was preceded by "no evidence of". I couldn't quite relax until I saw the stamp added by my dermatologist. It said "NO SKIN CANCER, RESULT CHECKED BY DR (My Dermatologist).

Thank goodness for that little rubber stamp.

I'm pleased that I took action. I'd rather have things cut off and samples be taken and discover that everything was okay, than do nothing and then later discover a melanoma or other nasty.

Have you had a skin check? Do you wear sunscreen?

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