Syd’s personal story
I grew up in the 60s and 70s when sun tanning was commonplace. For a little extra "golden tan," we often slathered ourselves with baby oil—certainly no sunscreen!
Back then I tended to tan, not burn, However in my adult years, burning was more common, even though I would (sometimes) use sunscreen. Over the years, I have had more than a dozen moles removed. Most came back as dysplastic nevi—noncancerous moles.
In August this year, I noticed a small, slightly raised mole on my shin. It was smaller than a pencil eraser. I was trying to recall if it was new and looked at old photos to see if it was there. Nope. No sign of it in any photos.
After a couple of weeks, I took a picture of it with my iPhone and then zoomed in on it. Although it closely resembled the melanoma photos that we see in brochures, I really didn't believe it was cancerous. (Denial is a very powerful force!) I showed the photo to my husband and asked him what he thought. His comment, "I think you need to see the dermatologist."
When you call the dermatologist's office in our medical group and mention that you have a new or changing mole, they get you in right away. A few days after calling, I had a shave biopsy. The nurse told me that I would hear from them within a week.
One week to the day later, the dermatologist called and told me that the biopsy came back as melanoma and I would be receiving a call from the dermatological surgeon's office to set up a wide excision. He also told me that coming in when I did saved my life. That's a sobering conversation!
The original biopsy indicated clean margins and stage 1a. The pathology report for the wide excision came back with clear margins as well. I have a significant scar on my shin which serves as a reminder to be proactive with sun protection and be vigilant for new and changing moles!
My advice: Be proactive. See your dermatologist annually for mole checks. If you notice something new or suspicious, do not wait! Have it checked out immediately. It could save your life!