Nervous About My Upcoming Skin Check
Last updated: April 2023
Skin checks cause anxiety for me in general. I see my dermatologist every six months for a full-body skin check, so I know if there is anything that needs treated it should be found relatively early. That still doesn’t stop the feeling of unease, though, before an appointment. There’s always the wonder of what is going to be found this time.
Worried by my upcoming skin check appointment
I have an upcoming appointment that’s making me even more nervous than normal. I have two areas on my face to show my dermatologist that I don’t like the looks of. I think I would be less nervous if the areas were on my arm or my leg or my chest, but potential skin cancers on my face kick anxiety into overdrive. I have had multiple surgeries to remove cancerous areas from my face. While I had excellent healing from all of them, two of those surgeries have left me with some permanent deformity of my upper lip, and one of them left me with permanent numbness in my forehead and upper lip area.
That’s the thing about skin cancer. We never know which one will end up being one that has wrapped itself around nerves (which is the reason for my permanent numbness), or grown into an area that causes some extensive tissue removal to get it all (which is why I lost part of my upper lip), or if it has grown so deeply or widely that it requires a great deal of reconstruction after the surgery.
Newly discovered spots that concern me
One of my newly-discovered areas is a dryish area on my cheek. It doesn’t scab, it doesn’t bleed; it just sits there. It’s so light, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to see – especially if I’m wearing makeup. I discovered it by feel. I was touching my face and realized that one area didn’t feel like the rest of the skin on my face. It’s finger-tip width, which is not exactly tiny. And I have no idea how long it has been there.
The other is on the same side of my face, but is a clear bump just under my jawline. Not in an area that I could see unless I was holding a mirror under my face (which I don’t do), and again, I found this one by feel. Again, I have no idea how long this one has been there.
These could be something or nothing
And this is what is causing the pit in my stomach. I am usually pretty good at finding spots on my skin and knowing what they probably are, but not with these. The scaly one could be basal cell or squamous cell, it could be something else, or it could be nothing. And if it is something, how big has it grown under my skin? The clear bump may be basal cell, it could be something else, or it could be nothing. Again, if it is something, how big has it grown under my skin?
Is one of these going to be one that turns out to be huge? Skin cancer surgeries can be traumatic anyway, but if the area is larger than most, what is going to be needed to remove all of it?
Need to do better self-skin checks
I have had skin cancer since 1995. It is worrisome to me that despite frequent self-skin checks and twice-a-year skin checks with my dermatologist, I do not know when these popped up. Were they slow-growing? Did they show up overnight? I now know that even if I think I’m doing a good job at self-skin checks, I need to do better. I usually do a visual check, but I am now going to start incorporating touch checks as well. Twenty-eight years with skin cancer, and I’m still learning.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?