A woman in gardening gear is worried about a strange mark on her cheek.

It's Not Always Bad News

If you’re like me, having skin cancer can cause anxiety. I tend to eye every new spot or bump with suspicion. Is it a bug bite? An allergic reaction to something? Or is it a new cancerous area?

I keep a close eye on my skin. I find myself doing skin checks as I wash my hands, brush my teeth, brush my hair, or put on makeup. Even though I have regular skin checks with my dermatologist, I watch for anything new that may show up between appointments.

My history of finding spots

Thankfully, a good portion of the bumps or spots disappear, but there have been areas that do not go away. Those are the areas that I make sure to point out to my dermatologist when I see her. Sometimes the areas I show her are not concerning to her. I had an area of seborrheic keratosis that I showed my doctor nearly every time I saw her because I thought it looked weird. And each time she told me not to worry about that area and that it wasn’t cancerous. Thankfully, last time I saw her she used cryosurgery to freeze it off, because it had started to hurt.

Other times I have had actinic keratosis areas that my doctor froze. I’ve also had areas that needed biopsied and turned out to be basal cell or squamous cell areas.

A new potential skin cancer spot

But recently, I noticed something on my cheek that looked different than any other area of skin cancer I have had. It also looked different than any other suspicious bump or spot I’ve previously had. As I was washing my face one night, I noticed it. It was darker in color, but kind of elongated. And it appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I kept an eye on it for a couple of weeks. I poked and prodded at it, but I couldn’t feel it on my skin. It wasn’t a raised area, and it wasn’t causing any pain. It wouldn’t go away, though.

By that time I was sure it was something serious. I have had skin cancer for 25 years, but this was different. Did I have a rare form of skin cancer? Was it melanoma? What in the world was on my face? I googled images of skin cancer, but I couldn’t find anything that looked similar to what I have.

Always check with your dermatologist

My next appointment with my dermatologist wasn’t for several months, so I called her office and made an appointment for her to look at it. At the appointment, I told my doctor I had that strange place on my face for a couple of weeks and I didn’t know what it is. She looked at it and said she didn’t know either. I was expecting her to have to biopsy it, when I suddenly remembered that as I was trimming dead twigs off a bush a couple of weeks prior, one had flipped up and hit me in the face. (Why didn’t I think of this before?) I asked her if it could possibly be a splinter. Y’all...I had a splinter in my cheek. My doctor removed it in three seconds flat. Nothing serious, nothing that required treatment, and a lot of relief.

I’m not going to stop being diligent with my skin checks, but I am going to be more careful now when I’m doing yard work.

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