My Current Challenge, Part 2

It’s July 26, I now have five stitches on the upper part of my left arm. A few days ago a colleague of my regular dermatologist removed a chunk of my skin for further testing and to clear out the margins around where my mole and its “funky” cells had been. This is probably not the end of the story and now here’s the rest of the story.

Funky cells?

After my initial biopsy, I had considered moving my surgery back a couple of months for professional reasons. Before I would consider doing that, I wanted to check with my dermatologist and his colleague (who ultimately did the surgery) about whether this was advisable. The diagnosis of “funky” cells was still bothering me and I needed some clarity before I would push things back.

The runaround

After calling both dermatologists, I realized that the attending nurses for each office really had no advice for me. Each read my chart and pushed the responsibility of making a recommendation as to whether I could postpone my surgery to the other’s office. One mentioned the word “melanoma” and the other said “carcinoma”. One said “pre-cancerous”, the other never mentioned that at all.

When all else fails, Google it

I decided to grab the bull by the horns and logged on to my account and looked at the initial report on the biopsy on my chart. Now, I am no doctor (but I have played one on tv). I really didn’t understand much about the report so I cut and pasted much of it into the Google search engine and tried to figure it all out for myself.

Not putting off treatment

When I read this from my chart and Googled it, I knew my answer. “The histologic findings are consistent with an atypical lentiginous nevus with moderate to severe architectural disorder and melanocytic atypia arising on sun-damaged skin. Complete excision is advised. “Then, I finally received this message from my dermatologist. “It really should be handled in a more timely manner- typically about 4-6 weeks after biopsy.” Enough messing around, I was going to keep my original surgical date (last Monday).

Find the answers

Lessons learned. Become familiar with your own chart. If you cannot view it online, then get a copy of it for your records. It is your life and body and you have a right to know what it says. Also, when you begin to feel like you are not getting a straight answer, push until you get one that you understand and are comfortable with.

More tests

So, after my surgery, the surgeon told me that he was sending my new patch of skin off to the lab for further evaluation. He also told me that I would need to come back in two weeks to get my stitches removed. I will be sure to read my chart and try to understand what Monday’s excision showed. I have a regular appointment with my dermatologist in August.

The impact of one abnormal mole

All of this happened from one mole check. One mole check equals two surgical procedures, Google searches, administrative runaround, and weeks of wondering. This is my life. Don’t let it be yours. Shade, lather, check your skin and your chart.

If you missed Part 1 of My Current Challenge, click here!

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