My PSA for the month: Wear your sunscreen!

To date, I have only ever had basal cell carcinoma (BCC) skin cancers. As skin cancer goes, this is the best kind. It isn’t deadly, but does have the potential to be disfiguring if left untreated. So far I’ve been lucky, the worst of my disfigurement is a 4-inch scar on my back. A battle scar. A conversation starter (Wear your sunscreen!). It could have been worse – I’ve had two removed from my lower eyelid, but luckily I found them early and had a great Mohs surgeon. No visible scars under my eye – whew.

This started in my early 30s. I’m now in my 40s and it has become somewhat of a normality. I see my dermatologist at least twice a year and he regularly freezes off offending spots. Now and then there is a biopsy for something suspicious. In total, I’ve had six BCCs and several atypical moles. So far, so good. You’d think I’d be completely blasé about it by now, and I usually am when it comes to biopsies for BCC. But when the Derm does a biopsy on a mole, I live for a week or so with that nagging feeling of impending melanoma doom. Biopsy Bingo – do I have the winning number this time? Or should I call it the losing number?

I had a checkup last week. He froze a spot on my ear, as I expected he would. What I did not expect was for him to decide to biopsy a mole on my calf. A mole we’d talked about before. One that he previously didn’t see a problem with, but now decided he didn’t like. Humph. That was a week ago this morning. I am guessing that it’s fine, because if it were bad they would’ve called me right away. Right?

I hate weeks like this. I tend to brood and go a little crazy. Waiting for a BCC result doesn’t bother me anymore. Getting an early detection, positive BCC biopsy result is like finding out you need a root canal. It will be a short term hassle and a tad painful, but not a huge deal. In fact, I would argue that a root canal is worse than Mohs for an early detected (smallish) BCC. That has been my experience anyway. However, waiting for the result of an abnormal mole biopsy is another thing. An abnormal mole could be melanoma (Bingo!). It’s like holding a lit match that you cannot drop and waiting with trepidation to see if the flame goes out before it gets to your fingers. If you’re lucky, it will. So far my matches have burned themselves out. But deep down I know that one of these days I’ll get burned. And so I sit here waiting to see if I this is the week I will feel a singe.

Coincidentally, May is Melanoma Awareness Month. There are plenty of articles online waiting to scare the shit out of me. Plenty of skin cancer blogs for me to ponder over when I’m bored and waiting for the call. Melanoma Girl, a blogger I have followed for several years now, passed away a few weeks ago. Although she ultimately succumbed to ovarian cancer, she had melanoma first and ran an amazing awareness campaign. SPF = Sexy Pale Female. It was brilliant. She was only 45.

For my own sanity, I won’t wait much longer. If I don’t hear from the Derm today, I’ll call first thing tomorrow. Even though I KNOW they would have already called if it were bad news, I can’t spend another weekend with that little nagging worry. I mean, it’s supposed to be 104˚ here in Phoenix! Perfect for lying out by the pool and getting a little sun…from under my umbrella. 🙂

Don’t forget…wear your sunscreen! Be proud of your SPF!