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There are times in life that reality is right there in your face. Today was one of those for me. A week ago I had a spot come up on my face - over on the side of my jaw near my ear. Now, I know for most people that wouldn't seem like too big a deal... but for me it is a very big deal. My Mom was diagnosed with malignant melanoma over 5 years ago, and since then she has been back and forth for checks and rechecks, having more and more places removed, facing the days of waiting for word from Pathology as to whether we could breathe a sigh of relief, or move on to the next step in treatment. So that immediately raised my chances of developing melanoma at some point in my life. Problem is that I was born with a mole on my knee, which is very rare -- something I hated so much as a child. My Granddaddy always called it my "beauty mark" because he knew I hated it, and he was trying to make me feel special that I had to live with it. It wasn't until I was 16-yrs-old and had it removed for the first time that I found out that it was actually not something I could get rid of - it comes right back. It has been removed several times, and every few years I have to get it removed and sent to Pathology. But just having it also raised my chances of developing melanoma. So - there are two big marks against me right there. Top that with the fact that I am blonde-headed, light skinned, and have green eyes, had major sunburns before the age of 20 (after all, I was brought up in the day of laying out slathered in baby oil until burned to a crisp) and worst of all - I spent time in a tanning bed... not a great combination where these odds are going. Today was the day...time to face the Dermatologist and see what he had to say. And tonight I am feeling a little less than great, with a couple of new little bandaids on -- one on my face (yep) and another one on my neck not to far below the first one. Lots of things cross through your mind when faced with something like this.... but I feel very good to say that I am much more prepared to deal with whatever the news from these biopsies may be than I would have been a few years ago. I am sure of what I believe, of who I am, and that I know either way things will be okay.
For now, my face is hurting. The numbness has completely worn off, and the area where the spot was removed is right along a very sensitive part of the face and just plainly hurts at this time. Regrets are all behind me - but what I do think of is how many people take these things way too lightly. I beg of you - if you spend time in the sun, wear a good sunscreen -- do the research to make sure you are using one that is actually rated well. Keep a hat on your head, and sunglasses over your eyes when outside in the sun. And go see a Dermatologist regularly for skin checks. If you see anything new, anything strange, or anything changing on your skin -- then waste no time getting in to be checked. And do not go to your Primary Care physician -- my husband is an Internal Medicine Doctor, and he will quickly tell anyone that he is not trained sufficiently to make that decision and to go see a Dermatologist. It is not worth the risk.
Thanks for letting me get on my soapbox about this tonight. This is a serious issue - and too many people have waited too long, taken too many risks, and need to learn the risks and find out what they can do to take the best care of themselves possible. Malignant Melanoma is not the typical skin cancer that people will face -- you will hear so many people say "oh yes, someone I know (or they themselves) had skin cancer, had it taken off and it was fine" -- that is more than likely one of the other skin cancers that are serious, but not deadly. Melanoma is a deadly cancer - and it can hide in the body and show up somewhere other than skin. So take it seriously. And please, please, please stay away from tanning beds. If you have doubts about the seriousness of the risk, then go speak to a Dermatology Surgeon and get the facts. It is just not worth the risk.
Thanks for giving me a few minutes... Have a GREAT evening. Please watch and then share this video link with your friends list, and if you will - on your page.