I willingly admit I have spent almost zero time focused on my health since I’ve become a mom. All three of my children had tonsillectomies last year. I have one child with special needs that has some medical specialists. Even my husband sees the doctor regularly, due to his autoimmune disease. Then there’s me… I just can’t seem to fit a checkup in. I do not have a regular doctor and I only go to one for strep tests when everyone is the house is positive. Everyone else’s health and medical needs come before mine.
Over the last two years, during the brief moments that I look into a mirror, I’ve noticed this little mole on my shoulder change. This last year the mole completely changed color. I remember reading that was something that shouldn’t be ignored. My boys and I spend our summers at the pool and in the back of my mind, I kept telling myself to get that mole checked out. But instead, I would just lather extra sunblock over that little mole and called it a day.
I recently dealt with a death in my family. I don’t know if it woke me up to my own health but I decided to get that mole checked out finally. Instead of going to a general doctor, I tried to make an appointment with a dermatologist. I will say that, wow, it is really hard to get an appointment. The places I called had at least a month wait time to get in. I know they are very busy dealing with an array of skin issues and concerns, but I did not want to wait that long. Luckily, I hit the jackpot and found a dermatologist that makes same day appointments and is basically an urgent care for your moles or other minor skin issues. So I called and got a same-day appointment and went in while all my kids were at school.
I told the dermatologist that my mole changed. It actually had gotten a few shades lighter, but didn’t change in shape or size. They took a picture of it, and then removed the mole by shaving it off. Then they sent it off for a biopsy.
“We’ll contact you no later than two weeks. If your mole is benign you’ll get a postcard in the mail and if you haven’t heard from us or haven’t gotten a postcard in two weeks, please give our office a call.”
The next few days Doctor Internet kept me up late at night. I would randomly burst into tears and fear the worst; what if it did have skin cancer; and have had it for years?!? I really felt regret thinking I should have done this last year. I don’t do well with waiting for results when it comes to potential life-altering news. My friend says she gets mole biopsies often and would usually get benign results within about 3 to 4 days. Well, days passed…and each one felt like forever. Maybe my postcard got lost in all the holiday card mail? Maybe I wrote down the wrong phone number and they’ve been trying to call me for days? I was an absolute wreck and an insane about of depression and anxiety set in. But on day 12, I received my postcard in the mail. It was benign.
Lessons to be learned from this
Check your skin and check it often. It’s your largest organ so it may be hard to see some areas. Have a second set of eyes that can check for any questionable moles or spots. Age and race do not matter when it comes to skin cancer. I always thought that because I’m Asian, I won’t get skin cancer. I also thought I’m relatively young for skin cancer. The dermatologist said no one is immune. Changes can happen anytime and even in areas that don’t see the light of the sun.
Don’t wait when it comes to your health care. If you feel different or if something looks different or changes, get yourself checked out. Bring the kids with you to your appointment; load them up with snacks and a tablet and talk to a medical professional about what’s concerning you. If you feel like you’re healthy and feel great, don’t forget those annual checkups as well! Prevention is also a blessing. Being a mom isn’t easy and we sacrifice a lot. But our health cannot be sacrificed. We need to make time for ourselves to make sure we are there to watch our children grow up. I love my children with all of my being, so I will take care of myself.
As a reminder: The ABCDEs of Melanoma from The American Academy of Dermatology
A= Asymmetry: One half is unlike the other half.
B= Border: An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
C= Color: Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.
D= Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
E= Evolve: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.