Going to the doctor, for me, has never been something I enjoy, but I know it’s necessary… (especially after my whole brain tumor experience.)
So, the dermatologist is no exception. I’m a fair, freckly, girl and it’s important to get that kind of skin checked. Granted, I’ve never been the type to spend my time in the sun without sunscreen though. There have been a few times that I’ve gone without it and regretted it completely, not going to lie about that.
About two years ago, I had a pretty busy year and at the end of it realized I had missed my yearly skin check appointment. I had also noticed two very small freckles on my shoulder that seemed to stand out more than my others. Of course, I thought nothing about it really. I’ve had moles removed because they looked weird before and it’s always been nothing. So, I scheduled my skin check, just to make sure everything was okay. I have a pretty amazing dermatologist, who truly is one of the only doctors that makes me feel super comfortable, so I’m lucky about that. In these appointments, my doctor looks over my body, scans for anything that stands out and also asks if I’ve noticed anything weird. But, pretty much right before she asked me that, she noticed my shoulder and said, “I don’t like these and I want to take them off.” Again, didn’t think much of it because that’s happened a few times before. So, a shot in the shoulder, a few shaves of skin gone, and 1 stitch later, I was dressed and on my way out… results would come in two weeks when I went back in to get the stitch removed.
About a week into my two weeks of waiting, I received a call from the office stating that I needed to call them back ASAP. – This is NEVER a call you want to receive – Even if it’s not bad, a doctor calling you and saying that before you’re supposed to hear from them is BEYOND scary. So, even though I was shaking and super nervous, I called them back. And here’s where they go wrong again.. telling me I need to come in to discuss results and not tell me over the phone. OF COURSE I FREAK OUT AND IMMEDIATELY GO TO BAD THOUGHTS. Who wouldn’t?? Everyone told me to just wait and see, don’t worry until you have a reason to worry, but this one was hard for me. I wanted to believe everything was okay, I did, but sometimes you just can’t control how you feel. A day or two later, I went back in, shaking with nerves, ready for anything. My doctor came in and almost immediately said the words, “so, we got your biopsy back and it is Melanoma.” MELANOMA. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’m too young for that. That’s not right. Are you sure?? But I always wear sunscreen and I’ve never set foot in a tanning bed!! But, it was true, unfortunately.. and I almost immediately broke down in tears. I had been holding it all in waiting for the news and I just couldn’t hold it any longer. Everyone knows Melanoma is real and it’s scary but I truly never thought I’d hear those words about ME. So, of course, right off the bat, as soon as I calmed down, I started asking questions. She assured me we caught it so super early and that it’s the kind we could take care of in-office and I wouldn’t need extra surgeries or chemo. Thank goodness!
My surgery was scheduled for a week from then with the doctor who owns the practice so I definitely felt comfortable, even though I hadn’t met him. I went to my appointment on my own (which, to this day, I’m still proud of myself for. I don’t usually do major doctor appointments alone!) I wasn’t necessarily worried about this surgery, more about the recovery and the shots they use to numb you. I was used to getting 1 or 2 shots for a biopsy, but when the nurse told me I’d be getting 7, I just about choked! These Lidocaine shots HURT. I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance with what I’ve gone through in my past and the fact that shots/IVs never hurt me and my tattoo didn’t hurt but HOLY MOLY the pain from these shots is killer. So, one by one she gave me the shots and I just cringed and held my breath until the very last one, which hurt the most!! Don’t know how that’s possible! My shoulder was just about as numb as it could be and now, it was time to wait for the doctor to be ready and my shoulder to be prepped. I was left alone for a while before it started and I got so nervous that I was shaking and I thought I was having a reaction to the shots for some reason… another reason to bring someone with you! The surgery went well, fairly quickly and 12 stitches later.. my melanoma was out of me with a check up scheduled for another week or two later.
The check up went better than I expected. The stitches came out and I was told they got ALL THE MELANOMA! Celebrations were in order for sure. Best news ever. It was a little bump in my story and now I could move past it… although with Melanoma comes check ups every 6 months.. but I was okay with that. I want to always make sure there’s nothing there and if there is, that it’s taken care of right away. Because this skin cancer totally scared me and caught me off guard, I decided to share my story on Facebook and Instagram. It wasn’t for people to feel bad for me, at all, it was to make others aware that even if you’re not in the sun or you’ve never been in a tanning bed, this could still happen to you. Be proactive and get checked!
Exactly 1 year later, from my diagnosis, and I’m feeling great. Happy I got through that and that my first 6-month check up was clear! Coming up on my second and all I can do is pray that it’s just the same. This scare taught me a lot. It taught me to always be proactive about going to the doctor even if it’s just something you’re unsure about and to always always always use sunscreen. Reapplying is key!
Don’t wait…. Go get checked now!
Thanks for reading!