The Freckle…

Two weeks ago (on our 8th wedding anniversary), I went to the dermatologist to get a full body skin check.  It was part of my 30 Before 30 List.

My doctor said everything looked normal except a freckle on my leg.  Her concerned looked made me instantly prepare for the worst case scenario.  My memory flashed back to a few years ago when my mom got a few pre-cancerous spots removed from her face.

They numbed the spot and she sliced the top of it off and sent it in to pathology.

The post-biopsy instructions were to keep it lubbed up with vaseline and covered with a bandaid… and to WAIT up to 2 weeks for the results.

Yesterday, was day 13 and I felt like I should call since I hadn’t heard back from them yet.

The receptionist took a long pause and said “it looks like your results are back but the doctor is reviewing them.  She will call you later today to discuss them, since she is with a patient right now.”

Ok.

A while later my doctor called back and she kindly, slowly and patiently explained to me that my pathology results came back…

I asked her to repeat the medical terms a couple of times – as if I was trying to learn the words, but I was really just trying to think “have I heard of this before?”

I wish I would have written it down… but I am going to call today and ask for a letter, if they have not already sent one.

The freckle they shaved off was “VERY abnormal” and as if she waited a minute to tell me the next part of the diagnosis, I held my breath….

She said that inside the freckle was the very early stages of melanoma.

The protocol is to cut it out along with 1 centimeter of skin/flesh all around it.

She said no other treatments are necessary for it and that survival rate is 99%.

They will check it every 3 months the first year, every 6 months the second year and yearly after that.

At first I was indifferent with the news… Surprised but not, ya know? I felt like I could tell from her face the day of my full body skin check it was certainly an option.

I also have very fair skin and lots of freckles.

I used to work at a tanning salon in high school… I did it to build up a “base” tan so I wouldn’t burn playing sports or going on vacation.

Even then, I always wore sunscreen when I was outside for any length of time.

I could sit here kicking myself for all the times I didn’t use sunscreen, but I really can’t recall a time I did not wear sunscreen.

I feel like I’ve BEEN careful NOT to burn.

I’m “the annoying one” who reminds people around me to wear sunscreen.

But still, I am faced with this diagnosis.  While my doctor assured me that it is very treatable since we caught it so early, I am scared.

As part of my 30 Before 30 List, I just completed reading the Bible.  I know God is BIGGER than any of us could imagine and certainly bigger than this situation.

However, trusting in the Lord doesn’t mean that nothing terrible will ever happen to me.

But I also think back to when God allowed Satan to completely wreck havoc on Job’s life… all to prove that Job would follow God despite the blessings OR trials he faced.

I don’t get to make any health decisions I could have selected from a multiple choice quiz…  This is definitely option “E” (none of the above, please!).

I can only control how I react to this.  I am going to trust the God of the universe because He has a big, sovereign plan that I couldn’t possibly understand.

I also believe in sharing this “bad news” because when God’s glory results from it, I want to shout it from the rooftops: He is my healer!

Last night I had a little cry-melt-down, which I’m sure won’t be my last.  Sometimes you’ve just gotta ride your emotions and get it all out, right?

So, I decided to get ultra-personal and share all this because not helping someone is the same as hurting them…

I don’t want to hear that people I know are out “getting their burn on” or skipping sunscreen.  I know it’s none of my business to tell people what to do, but the least I can do is tell people about my journey through this, so they can make an informed decision they feel at peace with.

 So here’s my suggestions:

1. go to the dermatologist. pay the co-pay & have them do a full skin check. Repeat each year.

2. wear sunscreen, for Pete’s sake! Wear it year-round, even when it is overcast.  Wear it when you are taking a long trip in the car.  Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your scalp, behind your ears, on your lips and the bottom of your feet. Wear sunscreen, EVEN if you don’t think you need it.

I hope I can inspire even just ONE person to change their habits and be proactive about their skincare.

Throughout this experience, I am certain my disposition will be all over the map… Here’s today’s feelings:

Today’s mood: still trying to wrap my mind around it all. no crying so far today.  I want to feel like I’m not alone (not the only person who has been through this) but at the same time, I don’t want anyone else to have this.

Today’s coping: exercise… endorphins are a Godsend!  I’m also having a friend over to show her some photography/lighting stuff.  This will be a great distraction for me during Little Dude’s naptime.

And if you have made it this far, here are some pictures. 

The one on the left is the day after she sliced the freckle off the top of my skin. It left a lip-shaped wound.

I took the one on the right yesterday, once I got “the news” that they’d have to cut it out.  The orange square around it is MY estimate of how much they will have to dig out… since she said they cut 1 centimeter around each side of it.

Please leave a comment below & share with your friends. All comments await my moderation.

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Carrie - July 10, 2012 - 12:38 pm

What mixed emotions you must be feeling. Scary, but what a blessing that they caught it early and that you were smart enough to get checked out. Thank you for sharing your story, inspired me to get a check up. Do you have any recommendations for derms in our area?

Heather - July 10, 2012 - 12:58 pm

Carrie, very mixed emotions for sure! I see Dr. Jeanie Leddon at the Lafayette office (they have other offices, too) http://www.bvderm.com Glad you are going to make your appointment!

Kelly - July 10, 2012 - 12:59 pm

Heather, I’m in your corner, praying and sending good thoughts your way!

Sarah Mahunik - July 10, 2012 - 1:07 pm

Oh Heather, I am sorry. I went through this when my first baby was a few months old. It was so scary & awful. The second opion came back negative but they took every precaution like it wasn’t. (like a huge chunk out of me). I still worry daily. I am on 6 month checks and i feel like that is sometimes too long. You posting about God made me think of how I need to put more faith in God when my anxiety is high. I will send prayers your way 🙂

Heather - July 10, 2012 - 1:09 pm

thank you, Kelly!!

Heather - July 10, 2012 - 1:09 pm

Thank you Sarah! Yes, trust in God!

Christy - July 10, 2012 - 2:56 pm

Thanks for the posting. I’m also fair skinned and freckle faced. I see my derm religiously, but this post gave me the extra motivation to make an appt before my yearly full body. I have a freckle that’s recently turned darker. Thanks again and I wish you well.

Amanda - July 13, 2012 - 7:10 pm

You are so lucky you went and got checked… something my husband and I really need to do now!

Heather - July 14, 2012 - 6:56 pm

Very luck, huh Amanda! Definitely make that appointment!

Leanne - July 16, 2012 - 10:34 am

Thank you for sharing your experience and being so transparent. I’m so grateful you are proactive and they found it early. I will be making my annual skin appointment promptly.

MariaAna - November 7, 2012 - 9:21 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this. I understand it must be difficult to disclose this journey you are going through but then you found courage to face your fear and share with us all. this will save more lives. thanks for that. and I wish and pray that youll get over it asap by grace of our Lord!

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