If you've met me, you know I'm pale. Pale is actually a very, very polite term for my skin complexion. Stark white, nearly-translucent. That's more like it. I wish I could say porcelain. But that's a lie. It's actually pasty. Thankfully, I do tan up a bit, and my cheeks are naturally rosy, so I really shouldn't complain.
I've always had a few freckles and moles. But the years of loving the sun have started to catch up with me. As a child I had multiple sun burns. In my late teens and early twenties, I tried the fake bake of the tanning booth (something I very much regret now). What used to be just a few freckles has grown to be a splattering of freckles all over my body. Cute, maybe, but all signs point to sun damage.
I've had not less than ten moles removed in my adult life. I've honestly lost count. And of those removals, one has been 'funky', coming back as pre-cancerous. Thankfully NOT cancerous (melanoma). My dermatologist had to remove deep into the surrounding tissue and I've had no issues since. But I still breath a sigh of relief whenever I think about what that could have become.
Yearly skin check. I had mine the other day. I knew what to expect - it's the same every year. Do you go in the sun? (Yes.) Do you wear sunscreen? (Yes, sometimes. <--- I know, I'm an RN. I should know better. And I do. But honesty during your health check-ups is way more important than giving the answers you think they want to hear.) Have you ever had any blistering sunburns in your life? (Yes. Two as an adult; multiple as a child.)
My doc looked my skin over, head-to-toe. It's not a comfortable appointment. Through my hair to see my scalp. My face, my back, my arms. Everywhere. She was very thorough, looking for those moles that aren't like the others.
Four. She found four that made her say "hmmmmm." And I was prepared; certain that it would be on my arms or my back - those areas which see the most sunlight. Maybe even my face. I was ready for that.
But not this time. This time, it's where the sun don't shine. My bum. Nothing's awesome about having moles removed. The needle, the lidocaine burning, the scalpel, the tingling pain after. Laying on my stomach, I was making nervous jokes about my booty. Slightly embarrassed, yet grateful that she found the discrepancies. Moles I can't even see. What might they become if she hadn't found them? Would any of them have progressed to melanoma?
So here I am tonight, the day after having those four moles removed from my tuckus. And it's tender. [Insert butt jokes here.] Yet, jokes aside, I'm relieved that those moles were found. Most likely, pathology will reveal that they are completely benign. And if not, then I'll do follow-up with a dermatologist back in the States during R&R. And next year, I'll do the same thing. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the year after that. You get the picture, right?
Consider this my PSA as a sun-loving, pale, freckly RN runner. Get your skin checked. Head-to-Toe. And don't let your doc miss the areas where the sun DON'T shine. Because she might just find something that you've been missing.