Today kicks off Skin Cancer Awareness month, a month dedicated to increasing public awareness of the importance of skin cancer prevention, early detection, and the treatment of all types of skin cancer.
I had to cancel my biannual full-body check with my dermatologist in early November due to a last minute trip out of town. When I called to reschedule my appointment, the earliest slot I could get was in January. As November progressed, a spot of concern on my left cheek continued to change rather rapidly and was starting to look similar to the top left picture on the chart below. When a small black dot appeared in the brownish-red spot that had been on my cheek for a couple of years, I became concerned.
Fortunately, my husband had a December appointment with Dr. Ha and was more than happy to switch our two appointments so I could get in earlier. I’m sure if I’d just called and said that I had a suspected melanoma they would have fit me in immediately, but I was afraid that I might be overreacting and it would be nothing…
Dr. Ha did a biopsy on the spot on my cheek and said he’d call once the results came back in about a week. Four days later he called with news that it was indeed another melanoma, but like the last, we’d caught it in its earliest stages. He told me to call my skin cancer surgeon the following day after he’d had a chance to send over the pathology report. I’d hoped my surgeon would schedule my surgery right after Christmas, but I found myself in surgery just two days later, the Monday before Christmas. Dr. Todd doesn’t fool around with melanomas.
Despite the appearance, I had absolutely no pain associated with the removal of my melanoma. A little over a week after surgery, I got the good news that all of my margins were clear and I was cancer free.
For scar management, once my stitches were removed I wore a clear silicone gel strip (affiliate link) on my scar to keep it flat for two months. I’m wearing it in the picture below that was taken five weeks after surgery. The scar is fading daily and when my hair is down, it’s hardly noticeable.
I’m grateful for both of my doctors; Dr. Ha for his diligence in catching my skin cancers early and Dr. Todd for his skill in removing my tiny cancerous tumors and stitching me back up with such precision.
Listening to my gut instinct paid off and got me in to see my doctor a month earlier than scheduled. I’m hopeful that those reading will learn from my many mistakes made over the years – that you’ll avoid needless hours baking in the sun and that you’ll use sunscreen diligently. I’m also hopeful that you’ll get your skin checked, especially if you’re fair skinned or at high risk for skin cancer.
If you’re interested in reading other posts I’ve written about my experiences with skin cancer over the last eighteen years, please visit my Skin Cancer tab where you will find:
- Tips For Running Safely In The Sun
- My Promise To My Dermatologist
- This May, Please Learn From My Mistakes
- Confessions Of A Tanning Goddess
- What To Expect At Your Full Body Check: A Visit With Dr. Ha
- Connecting The Dots
- That Odd Looking Spot Sure Doesn’t Look Like Melanoma
- Do you avoid being outside between 10 AM and 2 PM?
- Have you ever gotten a bad sunburn?
- Do you get full-body checks from your dermatologist?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.
I’m so glad that you were able to catch it early and kudos to you for listening to your gut instincts!
Kimberly G recently posted…Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon Training Recap – Week 9
Listening to your gut is so important! Your doctor did a great job, as you can’t even see a scar. I get full body checks by my dermatologist once a year. I had melanoma removed from my leg when I was in my early 20’s. I used to go to the tanning bed and I think that’s how I got it. (I can’t believe people still go to tanning beds!) It’s so important to make people aware. Early detection is key!
Cyndi recently posted…Strength Training…….it’s important!
I’m glad you found your melanoma early, too. Early detection is absolutely the key!
I used a tanning bed a few times before we went to Hawaii so I’d have a “base tan” and not burn. Also, one of the health clubs where I was a member had tanning beds in each locker room in the 80’s-90’s. Can you believe that? 🙁
Great advice! I just had my check up- I go 2 times a year and they froze a couple spots on my forehead, it is never-ending I swear! Trusting your gut is key- I always go in with – can you look at this or that. I need to check out that gel strip! Some of my scars healed flat and some do not- ugh! Your check looks great!
Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…I am just putzing around! Weekly wrap
Thanks, Mary Beth! I agree, I keep thinking that eventually I’ll quit growing these things, but they just keep popping up…
Wow, your recovery is amazing – you can’t see the scar at all! I’m super careful with my skin (#palepeopleproblems) but am always a little paranoid, and go in for checkups often.
Thanks, Alyse! HaHa, I love your hashtag! So true! 😀
Oh my gosh. So lucky that it was such an early catch!!!
Yes, I feel very lucky indeed!
I’ve had a few pre cancerous things removed the past few years and I am really trying to be better w my sunscreen. I also have a friend fighting metastatic melanoma and it’s quite scary. So glad you are able to recognize yours so early and have them treated. Thanks for the important reminder!
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Strawberry Margaritas & Vegetarian Cinco De Mayo Favorites
Yes, early detection is the key. Sending up continued prayers for your friend…
I have my annual exam on Friday. So glad you were vigilant and able to get the melanoma removed early. And wow – you’ve healed so well!
I am vigilant about wearing sunscreen everyday, but I’m going to start reapplying for my afternoon walk with the dog.
Good for you, Dana. Stay vigilant! As much as I dislike the chore of always having to apply sunscreen, it’s something I just have to do with my outdoorsy lifestyle.
What a scare! I’m medium-complected…..I tan easily and do not burn much. That said, I was one of those teens who worshipped the sun like crazy, and I have had some sun burns (but nothing very serious). I know I don’t respect the sun as much as I should….I use sun protection, but am not very diligent about re-applying it.
Kimberly Hatting recently posted…The NonStop Running Continues
Just be careful, especially as a runner who’s out in the sun for extended hours during long runs and races.
I supervise a pathology lab, so you are speaking my language here!! I am SOOOO happy they caught it early. While I don’t avoid the sun, I do always wear protection and try to have my face protected with a hat, or sun screen at a minimum!!! Sending big hugs for a speedy recovery!!!
Michelle recently posted…Hitting the wall
Thank you so much, Michelle! 😀
Good for you being aware and being on it!!!
I don’t spend a lot of time in the sun but when I do I am out there a lot.
I wear sunscreen and visors. I have actually been deficient in VItamin D and the Dr. said it was because I wear too much sunscreen and my visor.
I do have a mole that has grown bigger-I should probably call the dermatologist.
Speedy recovery….I can barely see the scar.
Tamieka recently posted…Do you log Charity Miles?
Oh my gosh, you are so right – so many people are Vitamin D deficient due to the use of sunscreen. Definitely get that mole checked!
[…] case you missed it, on Monday I talked about my most recent melanoma scare in my blog post, Listening To My Gut Instinct Paid Off… Again, as we kicked off Skin Cancer Awareness Month. On Wednesday I wrote When Imagination Runs Wild […]
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