This is the second year I’ve gotten checked for skin cancer, or the more technical term when making an appointment at the dermatology “a full body scan”. My previous doctor had left the practice and they were closing down, she had yet to send me a ‘change of address’ card for this year so I found someone else through my health insurance. We pay enough for it as it is thanks to the shady healthcare plan put into place by the powers that be (of course I’m also paying for someone else to get scans as well – you know the ones without insurance). Anyway, standard procedure is they review your medical history, its mostly a scantron form (check yes or no if you have been diagnosed with any of the following), then they put you in a room and review your forms. You are then handed a paper robe so to speak, its similar to what they give you at the hospital and yes you have to leave the back open but can leave on your under garments. First I met with the nurse practicianer (female) who would do the initial scan and then the doctor would come in. She went over everything, checked in my hair, from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. I asked her a few questions about the spots I already had that I was told to ‘keep an eye on’. One spot in particular was a dark spot on the top of my hip that was just ugly but hadn’t changed in size, shape or color. She made note of them and then called the doctor in, who also came in with another nurse. She sat in front of the computer basically taking notes of the exam. There are now 3 people plus me in the small exam room. It’s a bit crowded for my liking. Again, we review the spots, the one on my hip, the raised one on my back (which never really was an issue, it would itch me every now and then). Then the doctor asked if I’d like the spot near my nose removed, its basically a clear beauty mark that I’ve gotten used to, so I declined. The cut marks on my legs from years of cutting myself shaving, then cutting them again and again, which have scarred are normal (to me they are ugly, I may go back in the winter to get them taken off). It was then decided to remove the spot on my back and the one on my hip. So now I’m laying on my stomach as if I was sunning while the nurse practicianer measures the spots and injects me with novicaine. They told me it would be a quick procedure that the spots would be shaved off. OK, now I’m slightly shaking and nervous, especially since I’m light skinned and had visited a tanning booth more than twice in my lifetime (only prior to any trip to the carribean in the winter) and was a ‘baby oil’ tanner back in the 90’s. I didn’t know any better back then but after years of sunburns and money spent on aloe products I could only hope these spots weren’t cancerous.
As I laid there waiting for her to begin, I wasn’t at all prepared for this after all we don’t have a family history and crazy things starting running through my mind. The last few years (especially after a lesson in expired sunscreen and what that can do to you) I’ve been happily using SPF30, and only 50 if I’m out in the sun all day. Unfortunately or moreso fortunately I did not inherit the Italian skin from my dad’s side of the family where my skin would become a nice brown leather color. I get dark but not too dark and if I want to tan then I’ll use the fake tanner sparingly.
I was told “you’d feel a little pinch” when she began, and at first it felt as if she was tracing around the spot, not at all like using a razor to remove it. Within seconds she was done and on to the next. Liquid bandaid was used to seal them and yes it does work, I’ve only used a bandaid when I went running and during the day on my hip to not risk opening it up or catching the scab. When she was finished putting me back together, she said the samples would be sent out to ‘path’ for testing and they’d be in touch if they found anything. And since I can’t use Neosporin (yes I have a freak allergy to it) I stopped at CVS stocked up on bandaids (if you checked out my first aid drawer at home you’d think I had enough) and bacitracin, I can’t imagine pouring my good old friend Peroxide on these wounds.
I don’t have a moral of the story nor anything funny to say in conclusion. I just advise you to get checked at least once a year to have peace of mind, if you are in the high risk -light haired, light skinned category and especially if it runs in your family. Always reapply after an hour in the sun, always date stamp your SPF if it isn’t already and buy new if after a year.