The daffodil is the symbol of hope for the cancer awareness – – so yes, fair warning: this is about my personal experience with the “C” word. It’s a happy story. By sharing it, I hope there’ll be even more happy stories.
Ironically, when the real daffodils were blooming this spring, it happened again. I noticed a little brown spot on my ankle. No big deal, but…
This spot had grown a bit since the first time I’d noticed it 6 months ago. Again, not alarming, but…
The most common place for melanoma (skin cancer) on women is on the ankles.
It makes sense really. I’ve often protected my face & arms with sunscreen, but only glossed over my lower legs. How many times have I gone out in a skirt, shorts, or even 3/4 length pants without thinking at all about sun exposure on my ankles? Many many times.
This time I decided to take action. I consulted a dermatologist. Although he really wasn’t that alarmed by the spot either, there were more factors to consider:
The ankle doesn’t have a whole lot of extra skin on it – – so it’s tricky to remove a patch & pull remaining skin together to mend.
- Plus healing an area that moves & stretches so much is very slow.
I wanted the mole gone before it got any bigger. He understood my insistence, & arranged a simple office surgery the next week. Easy-peasy.
A local anesthetic numbed the area, & after a few minutes, the incision had 3 tidy stitches. The scar won’t even be noticeable in a couple of weeks. 🙂
Potential crisis averted.
It’s not easy for me to be so assertive with doctors, but considering my experience with skin cancer, I know my best health advocate is me.
In 2005 I went to a dermatologist for advice about a mole on my right ankle. I was told not to worry, and given a pamphlet with photos of danger signs.
I was relieved – – and a little embarrassed I’d made a fuss.
By 2007 friends were expressing concern. I pooh-poohed it but began to realize the changes weren’t good. By the time the dermatologist was able to see me, in 2008, the spot had changed even more.
He took immediate action. It was proven melanoma, stage 4. A wider & deeper surgery was needed. That meant a skin graft to patch up the wound. Not so easy-peasy. (read: 3 months in bed.)
How could a little spot cause such havoc in my life?
A 2nd surgery followed, removing lymph nodes in my groin area. (read: Another nasty scar, nerve damage in my thigh, and a perpetually swollen foot.)
Three years later, I’m off my oncologist’s ‘Watch Closely’ list. Life is good. Crisis averted.
I’m getting better at practicing assertiveness.
I’m not hiding the scars either. Awareness is far more important than vanity. I want more happy stories….
© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013
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