Looking for the Positives After Finding a Suspicious Area
Every six months, I have an appointment with my dermatologist for a full skin check. These appointments are typically in June and December. Overall, the June appointments have gone pretty smoothly for the last few years. Maybe this is because I am not getting a lot of sun damage to my skin over the fall and winter months, but I think it may be because I have been taking much better care of my skin over the last 25 years than I did for my first thirty years. With age comes wisdom, right? Nonetheless, I still get anxiety about skin cancer.
Some appointments reveal sun damage
The December appointments usually have some areas that need frozen or biopsied, as inadvertent sun damage from the summer seems to start showing up by then. Despite efforts to prevent sunburn and overexposure to the sun, sometimes it happens.
I still have anxiety about skin cancer before checkups
Tomorrow is my checkup. Even though I have been regularly seeing my dermatologist for years, checkups can still give me anxiety and a sense of dread. I know what I can expect as far as the examination goes, but I never know what to expect as far as treatment that may be necessary. Sometimes it’s a biopsy that is needed, and sometimes it’s several biopsies. Sometimes I have numerous areas treated with cryosurgery.
I was feeling pretty confident
But with this particular appointment, I had been feeling pretty confident about it. I only had one small area to point out to my dermatologist, and I was feeling comfortable that the appointment would be easy-peasy (relatively speaking) and then I would be on my way to work in no time. At least that’s what I thought.
A persistent spot
Two days ago, I noticed the spot on my stomach. It has been there for quite awhile, and my dermatologist has examined it several times. Each time, she reassures me that is an area that doesn’t cause concern. But two days ago, I thought it looked like it has changed color. This kicked my anxiety about skin cancer into high gear.
It had definitely changed
I could feel that it had raised. Was it raised before? I don’t remember being able to feel it raised previously. It wasn’t this color before. Or was it? When did it change? Has it changed? When did it become bumpy? And why can’t I just have go to an appointment without my anxiety about skin cancer taking over?
I try to calm myself down
I tell myself to try to not stress. It may be something, but it may be nothing. Breathe. What’s the saying? Inhale courage, exhale fear. And that is what I will do. I try to think of positives. I can easily come up with several. I trust my doctor. She’s a wonderful dermatologist. That’s definitely a positive.
I took some comfort in my vigilance
I noticed the area prior to my six-month checkup, so I didn’t have to make a special appointment. Even if I had found it after the checkup, though, my doctor tells me at each appointment that she’s here if I need her between appointments. That’s also a positive.
It'll be okay
My doctor takes photos of areas I’m concerned about at my appointments, so she's always able to compare to see how the spot looked previously. I tell myself, "I've got this." Despite my anxiety about skin cancer, I know I’m in good hands, and it’s going to be okay.
How do you talk yourself through anxiety about skin cancer?
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?