It Just Takes a Simple Trip to the Dermatologist

by Erica

Moley, Moley, Moley

I hate the word, mole. I just want to start by saying that. I always think of that scene in Austin Powers, where they all say, “moley, moley, moley”, in regards to Fred Savage’s mole.

Growing up, my mom called my moles “beauty marks” and told me that the reason I have so many is because I am so beautiful. My pediatrician checked them at every yearly visit, and my mom was good about slathering me in sunscreen.

As I hit my early twenties, I desired to have beautifully tanned skin. Why is it that we associate tan with beautiful? I would visit the tanning salon at least 3 times a week. I didn’t protect my skin outdoors or while in the tanning beds. I didn’t want to do anything to prevent achieving a perfect bronze glow.

While I am no longer a fan of tanning salons, I do sometimes wonder about the damage that I did to my skin over those few years of routine tanning.

Changes in Existing Moles

Over the past couple of years, I had begun to notice some changes in several moles. One in particular was starting to look very scary. I would tell myself to see a dermatologist, but with the busyness of my days, weeks quickly turned to months and before I knew it, a year had gone by.

Each time I read a magazine article about skin cancer or watched Izzie’s struggle on Grey’s Anatomy, a small voice would remind me to call the dermatologist. But to be honest, I was scared to go. The mole I was most concerned about was frightening to look at and I was convinced that I would hear the words, “you have skin cancer.”

Biopsy

I finally made an appointment and at the beginning of May, I headed to the dermatologist. The mole that I was concerned about, caught her eye too. She called it the ugly duckling of the bunch and removed it for a biopsy. I had to wait 7 days for the results, and to be honest, the waiting was horrible and at times a bit stressful.

Results

When I received my results, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. My mole was not cancerous, but It was an atypical mole that was on the moderate to severe side. This meant that while the bad cells were not cancerous, they were pre-cancerous. I was asked to come back in to have more skin and tissue removed and biopsied to make sure that all of the pre-cancerous cells were removed.

Both procedures were not that painful at all and now that it’s over, I no longer have to worry about that particular mole. My dermatologist does want me to come in each year for a screening.

I am glad that I finally listened to that little voice, and got myself to the dermatologist. Had I kept putting it off, and not going until years from now, who knows what the biopsy results would have been.

My goal in sharing this with you, is to nudge those of you who have been concerned about changes in any moles, freckles or spots to make an appointment with your dermatologist.

  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common forms of skin cancer, but are easily treated if detected early.
  • Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. However, if it is recognized and treated early, it is nearly 100 percent curable.

 
You can visit The Skin Cancer Foundation for more information about skin cancer, self-exams and sun-safety instructions.

Written by 5 Minutes for Mom Contributing Editor: Erica.



Email Author    |    Website About Erica

Erica has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom writing team since the summer of 2008. She is a mom to three little ones - Audrey (7), Isaiah (4) and Christian (3).

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole May 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I’m glad to hear that your biopsy came back OK!

I just finally got my husband to go the dermatologist with me last year for our first check up…luckily, everything was fine. I, too, hate that we associate bronzed with beautiful…my skin will be slathered with the SPF again this summer, and I won’t be tan, but that’s OK.

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2 mummyof5monsters May 29, 2009 at 5:16 pm

yes ive been, far less embarrassing than i thought!

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3 Kimberli May 29, 2009 at 5:31 pm

This is so true. My husband was watched closely while he was in the Air Force, but now it’s been years since he has seen a dermatologist. I’m going to have to make the appointment and make him go!!

So glad yours was all ok!!

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4 Sky May 29, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Thanks for sharing! I really need to make an appt. with my dermatologist. You’ve given me the kick in the behind to do it!

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5 bethn May 29, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I had been seeing a dermatologist for years and had a mole on my back that he kept saying was fine, but it was worrying me. So, finally I insisted that he remove it. It turned out to be a “sizeable melanoma” Fortunately it hadn’t spread and they got all of the cancer out.

My advice, always, always listen to your gut. If you’re worried get it checked!

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6 GorgeousGlow May 29, 2009 at 11:25 pm

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. You can make a difference. Schedule an appoinment with a friend today to see a dermatologist for a skin exam, it could really save your life. Each person you convince to stop using tanning beds, is a life you could be saving. Aqua Tan is the healthy alternative for a GORGEOUS GLOW! They are running a special this month. Send them the email address of anyone you can convince to stop using tanning beds and they’ll send you a 5% off coupon. You can sign the tanning bed petition in their on-line Skin Cancer Resource Center. As a SPECIAL THANK YOU you for helping save lives they are extending a 10% discount to customers. Just Enter Coupon Code: ISAVELIVES at check out. http://www.aqua-tan.com.

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7 Jennifer, Snapshot May 30, 2009 at 8:12 am

Erica, this is SO timely for me!! I also have a particular mole that I need to have looked at it, and keep delaying making an appointment. . . . !!

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8 Storm May 30, 2009 at 11:06 am

I am relieved and glad to hear you do not have cancer. I am a cancer survivor myself.

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9 JDSG May 30, 2009 at 11:09 am

Thank you for sharing the story. My advice: Go in and have the moles removed rather than waiting for changes. Right out of high school I made the choice to go to a General Physician and have all of my moles removed. Naturally I had to pay for as insurance wouldn’t, but it’s a small price to pay so that the moles are gone and it’s no longer necessary to “watch” them or have a worry later. I opt for this and push for it every chance I get. If I had it my way I’d have other things removed as well. I don’t “need them” and they can only lead to problems later down the road so I have things “removed” whenever I can push for the procedure to be done. Also this pertains for lumps in the breasts that could be cancer but the Dr’s aren’t sure. The Dr’s say “we will watch it for six months” I say “no you won’t you will remove it NOW” and it gets removed. It’s our bodies, our lives, our choices. Some cancers spread super fast…I won’t risk that if I have anything to say and do about it. Hope this advice helps someone out there. I don’t do this all out of fear, I do it because I found it easier than waiting and watching. I also do it because I am determined to be in control over my health and the insurance companies and their rules are ridiculous when it’s my health, my life.

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10 Denise Willms May 30, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I’m glad to hear your biopsy came back OK. The wait must have been a little stressful!

I especially appreciate how you’re sharing your own experiences to inspire and help others in a meaningful way. That approach is very similar to the one the moms at WAHM-Articles use as well – writing about their experiences to encourage other women. We moms really need each other!

Denise

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11 * TONYA * May 30, 2009 at 2:36 pm

So glad to hear that your biopsy was okay. I’ve had several odd looking marks removed, just to be on the safe side. Although I do get concerned about a rather large mole on my little boys leg. The doctors and dermatologists keep telling me it’s fine, I still worry though and have them check it each time he goes for a regular appointment, but at the same time I don’t want him to endure unnecessary surgery to have it removed if it truly is okay. I guess all I can continue to do is measure it and watch for changes.

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12 Angie May 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Happy to hear your biopsy was not cancerous. I have been for a head to toe skin cancer screening for the past 5 years. It gives me some peace of mind to know I’ve been checked by a professional and all of the “suspicious” moles have been removed.

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13 The Gang's Momma May 30, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Thanks for spreading the word. I am on a 6 month watch cycle: I have several “flashing yellow lights” that my dr. feels bear scrutiny. As he put it, I am at a “very high risk” for skin cancer (fair skin, many many moles, family history, etc.) so I got serious and buckled down to the pressure from my folks. I finally faced the truth that if I developed cancer because of my own neglect about this issue (given my knowledge and family history), I would hate myself for doing that to my hubby and kids. I don’t want to live like that.

On a lighter note, I had to laugh out loud at JDSG’s comment tho. If I had all my moles removed, I’d look like human swiss cheese. Seriously. Even my dr. is amazed at what he calls an “impressive number of moles” on my torso and extremities.

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14 JJ May 30, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I recently had a trip, too. A mole had tripled in size during my pregnancy–came back stage 2 non-melanoma. Worth that trip-and keeping a yearly appointment, for SURE. Glad you are OK!

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15 Amy W June 1, 2009 at 1:30 am

great post. i have a mole that its weird looking and i’ve been putting off getting it looked at for a long time. i guess its time a made that appointment.

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16 Monkey's Mama June 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Thank you so much for sharing – such a good reminder!

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