Knowing the First Signs of Skin Cancer
From baby oil to an unsightly mole
Growing up in the 70s, laying out in the sun was just something you did – especially in Florida. I have fair skin, red hair, and green eyes but every weekend I’d grab a towel, some baby oil, and my transistor radio and bake in the sun while listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown.
Quite a few years ago in the early 2000s, I had something under my eye that seemed like a mole that had popped up. I was in my late 20s or early 30s and thought nothing of it other than an inconvenience. I remember telling my close friend and neighbor that it was ugly and at some point, I’d have it removed. I guess I was vain in some capacity – not wanting my face to look unsightly from this “thing” that was on it.
I was working at a moving company where my insurance was paid since 90% or more of the moves we handled were military-related; this was long before the Affordable Care Act. Since I finally had a way of having this thing taken off, I made an appointment with a dermatologist only to find out that it was skin cancer.
Never expecting skin cancer
I remember being so surprised that it was anything other than a sunspot or mole. It never bled or did anything but sit there on my face and look unnatural. My memories are more vague since it’s been awhile, but I remember going to the hospital and being awake while they worked their magic and sent the sample off for a biopsy. One thing that stands out to me is that the doctor was so sweet and said, “Look at those long, beautiful lashes you have.” Everything came back okay, and I remember going out to eat at a diner afterwards – fries and a burger, with a bandage under my left eye.
I now have a fine-line type of scar that looks more like a wrinkle (much to my annoyance) and one thing that I do remember is that they didn’t get all of the stitches out. For up to a year or more later, I’d pull out a stitch once in a while and sometimes that area still stings – even now.
Fast forward to 2014 and I had a spot that kept weeping and bleeding. I knew what it was but went to have my punch biopsy with optimism anyway. Again, it was skin cancer. There is something about hearing it that gives you that little gut punch, kind of like the punch biopsy – it hits you and it hurts a little.
This time, I had to have Mohs surgery and I did all of my research – complete with YouTube videos and first-hand accounts. It went well, with them getting everything out the first trip so I was stitched up and sent home – complete with a Frankenstein look that I wore proudly the next day on a trip to Publix, a Florida staple.
All of that is a story for another time but the point is, no matter what you see that looks different from what you’re used to – have it checked out. Right now I have a dark spot under my eye and have an appointment next month to see the dermatologist.
Kim Hill is a freelance writer, website designer, painter, award-winning photographer, and overall Jill-of-All-Trades that lives in sunny, and often stormy, Florida - where there's always something happening in the news related to the state. Shauna Klein is her horror author pen name and she has vast experience in most sectors of ad copy and freelance writing. Kim has two degrees in Criminology and loves all-things crime and horror related.
Have you entered our National Healthy Skin Month Giveaway?