Back in late February/early March my husband was diagnosed with skin cancer in two areas. Even though skin cancer has become common and treatable, it is always scary to hear the word “cancer” especially when coming from a doctor’s mouth.
It all started when a small spot on his temple was nicked during a hair cut and for several days it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Some basic research online told him it could be cancer and that he should get in to see a doctor. At this point, most people would have shrugged this off and moved along with their lives. Who has time to see a doctor? I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m so proud of my husband for following through and making an appointment with a dermatologist.
At his appointment the dermatologist did a biopsy on the bleeding mole, and also decided to biopsy a small spot at his hairline. We found out a short time later that the mole he came in for was a basal cell, which should be treated but poses minimal health risks, and the small spot in his hair was an extreme pre-melanoma. We were both shocked! So much for thinking it was nothing. We scheduled two more appointments to undergo a Moh’s Procedure and a Slow Moh’s Procedure to ensure that the doctor had clear margins all the way around the cancerous spots. I was so thankful that we were able to have these two procedures taken care of as quickly as we did. They were long, painful, exhausting, and scary (it’s not every day you see a half inch deep hole on the side of your spouse’s head), but he came away with clean margins and the work the doctor did left very minimal scaring.
At the doctor’s instruction, my husband returned in April for a full body check up, just to make sure there were no other spots of concern. We again went in thinking everything was going to be great and they found five more spots to biopsy! Five! A few weeks later we received the results and four of the five were all early forms of melanoma. Of those four, two of them were small enough that the biopsy itself cut away enough to give clear margins. At this point we are just waiting to schedule appointments to take care of the last two areas — and shortly after that he will need to go back in for another full body check.
With this experience fresh in my mind, I hope each and every person who reads this schedules an appointment to see a dermatologist. Even if you don’t have any real concerns, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The initial check up is SO easy! Unless they find any areas of concern it is not painful or invasive. Only if they determine areas that need to be biopsied will tools be involved and they will numb you before any procedure.
The thing is, we all enjoy being outside; swimming, running, hiking, biking, or playing in this sunny state of ours, and therefore we are all at risk of getting skin cancer. Yes, you can avoid skin cancer by limiting your time outside, covering up, and wearing sunscreen, but that is not a foolproof prevention strategy. The point here is to take care of yourself. Don’t be the person to shrug it off and think “it would never happen to me.” Because my husband found and addressed the problem in the early stages it was easy to take care of. You should not wait at all — think of it as an updated version of the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.