A few years ago, I noticed what I thought to be a new freckle on the front of my left ankle. Being that I’m near-ghost white (and half-Irish), I’m used to being a canvas for the sun’s polka dots. Over time this presumably innocent little freckle grew in size and darkened in color. I thought it was odd, but opted to ignore it. Looking back, my ignorance was a mask for fear of finding out what the spot actually was. After a few months of comments from my mom, urging me to get it looked at, I took her advice and went to the dermatologist.
Without getting too detailed, the mole was about a centimeter long, dark, and raised. (If you ever have something like this, get it checked out.) Anyway, they had to excise the spot and threw in some stitches. It went off to a pathology lab, where the results would come back in a week. Long story short, it came back as melanoma, and the mole had a malignant tumor beneath the surface. The next few months consisted of doctors appointments, a surgery to make sure the tumor didn’t spread, and even a little bit of plastic surgery to reconstruct my ankle.
My purpose for writing this isn’t meant to be a “poor me” sob story (I’m all clear and the cancer didn’t spread!), I’m writing this because this is something that can be so overlooked and needs more awareness. In an interview with Health Monitor*, I shared the story I just told you, and gave some tips on what to look for. MORAL OF THE STORY: if you see something you think looks weird, get it checked out. Don’t feel silly for asking questions and being cautious when it comes to your health. Put yourself first, buddies!
Additional information on melanoma: Melanoma is defined as a tumor of melanin-forming cells, typically a malignant tumor associated with skin cancer. It’s fairly curable, but if it’s not caught early enough, it can spread to the lymph nodes and become Lymphoma. So, be diligent on checking changes in your skin, and take the proper precautions when out in the sun (sunscreen, hats, yada yada). Learn more here from actual medical professionals.
*Looking back, I’m not sure why I submitted such a happy-go-lucky photo to assist this article. But, stay healthy and you’ll smile, too!