Do you remember the days of your youth when it was “the thing” to mix Baby Oil with Iodine then use that as “tanning” lotion? Who cared if we were frying our skin if we had a nice tan? It was easy then to think, yeah, “they” say this isn’t good for our skin, but we can worry about that when we get “old.”
It’s so easy to be short-sighted as a teenager, don’t you think?
About 10 years ago I had some skin cancer removed from my leg. Since then I have seen my dermatologist faithfully every year for a thorough examination. Just a few months ago, when I had my yearly check-up, she said I looked great. She added that because it had been 10 years since my skin cancer, and I hadn’t had any more episodes since then, I didn’t need to see her anymore, except by request.
Two weeks after that appointment, I noticed a tiny little brown spot on my skin that I had not noticed before. I watched it and over a period of about 4 weeks it changed significantly, so I made an appointment with my dermatologist again. She didn’t think the growth was skin cancer, told me the name of what it looked like (some long strange name I can’t remember), and “shaved” it off. A routine biopsy was performed.
Surprise. The biopsy came back with the diagnosis of Basil Cell Carcinoma. That’s skin cancer.
Yesterday I had a small surgical procedure to remove the rest of the growth, which was under the skin. I have a few internal and external stitches and was uncomfortable last night, but this morning it doesn’t hurt at all.
I share this as a reminder that little things can be big things, that we need to be proactive in our own health care, and it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist for a routine check-up, even if you haven’t had any problems in the past. As a layperson, it’s hard to know what looks suspicious and what doesn’t. Actually, everything looks suspicious to me now. So I’m glad I went back to see my doctor when something just didn’t look right.
If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will consider having an exam with a dermatologist. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early.