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SCREEN YOUR SKIN - Melanoma
In March of 2013 I knew it was high time I get back into having my annual dermatolgy exam as I'd missed a number of years due to caring for family members, pets, kids...you name it.
I scheduled and rescheduled my dermatology exam three times - finally I went in and had this feeling that a mole on my abdomen, which had been steadily growing for years, was going to cause concern as it had been concerning me for some time.
The mole was not asymetrical or discolored - so to anyone else it may have been "just a big mole" - it just didn't scream to fit the profile for concerning moles we all read about. As I'd suspected the pathology results came in early the next week - MELANOMA!
I grew up in California during the 70's-80's and sun bathing during High School as well as sports 24/7 was the mantra of our times. SUN SUN SUN - Baby Oil, and tanning beds once I moved to Washington State (eek).
Thankfully the mole that I had now dubbed "Norman Melanoma" was an early stage skin cancer - no ulcerations, 1mm deep and not fast growing. I moved fast and within a week I had the area surgically removed and a lymph node biopsy taken. RESULTS: Margins clear (all cancer removed) and lymph node clear too.
I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky - I have been working at Fred Hutchinson/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for approching 24 years. Taking care of myself in this area should be a no-brainer one would think. But somehow in caring for others (family, patients, colleagues -et cetera) it is somehow easy to neglect ourselves.
We are not super human - take care of others by ALSO taking care of yourself.
GET A DERMATOLOGY OR ANY OTHER CANCER SCREENING! I'd wear a sandwich board on the sidewalk if it would get the word out faster!
For this day - and all past and to come - I am eternally grateful.
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