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.