The Waiting Game

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I needed to schedule a dermatologist appointment to get a few moles checked out? Well, that appointment was yesterday. In the 4 years I’ve been getting my skin checked, I’ve had to go under the knife 3 times. Not exactly a good track record, eh? Thankfully, all of my biopsies have come up negative.

All day yesterday, I envisioned myself receiving word that my skin would be good to go –there’d be no knives involved, no needles… and I’d be on my merry way in 15 minutes flat. I mean hey, it’s happened once before, so surely I could receive that news again, right?! I even packed a bag for the gym so I could go straight from the doctor to the Y to attend a hot yoga class for the first time with my buddy Troy. I am a firm believer that visualization works, and I sure visualized the heck out of an image of me twisting into awkward yoga poses with sweat dripping down to my ankles…avoiding the inevitable face-plant into the yoga mat as I realized it is impossible to simultaneously hold downward dog and reach for a waterbottle to sneak a good ‘ole sip of H2O. You just can’t do it. And the lesson I would learn would be that yoga is not the place for multitasking (I know, so profound, right?). And I’d leave my first class with a new-found sense of calm. Yep, that’s pretty much what I kept picturing allllll day long.

And yet, I still had an flock of butterflies fluttering around in my stomach. Butterflies with big, knobby elbows for wings.

Y’all know by now that I’m quite adamant about wearing sunscreen, and have been for as long as I can remember. Nevertheless, I know that that my proactivity does not guarantee a clear skin check. As I’ve mentioned before, every immediate (blood related) relative of mine has had skin cancer –  my mom, real dad, both sets of grandparents, my aunt and even my cousins (in fact, one of my cousins was diagnosed with melanoma at age 15). Heck, my stepdad (I know I know, not blood related…) was even diagnosed with melanoma this past March. Needless to say, I know my time will come, and I just have to be mentally prepared for it. I always know that the chances of getting a biopsy each time I go in for a skin check are high. My mom gets something removed pretty much every time she goes in, and my track record is starting to tally up the same way. So yesterday when the Doc got out his super-intense, lit-up-magnifying-glass-thingy, (I actually have no idea what it’s called), I held my breathe and waited for his verdict.

Now, this doc knows his stuff. His practice is super hard to get into (read: all the old-timers in Charlotte see him because they claim he’s the best in town), and the only reason I’m in his practice is because my old roommate’s parents have been going to him for years. The doc didn’t say much while scanning my skin, but he kept coming back to the huge mole (size of a pencil eraser, at least) on my thigh that I’ve had since…birth? Okay maybe not birth… but at least since I was 6 or 7.

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Baby, I was born this way

In the past year, that mole has changed color quite a bit, and the edges have become less smooth. In fact, the doc spent some time looking at this mole last year, but decided to just watch it. Welp, turns out his sentiments toward that baby changed yesterday, and he wanted to do further testing. So, out came the knife.

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wahhhhhh

(Warning: if you are squeamish around blood… I advise you not to look at the pictures below… ahem cough.cough.nudge*elbowshove* RYAN!!! But in all honesty, the pictures really are not all that bad.)

First, the doc whipped out a needle to numb the area. While doing this, I asked him if it’d be okay if I took pictures. I expected crickets, but he looked at me as if I were the coolest patient ever and said “Really? Go for it, we take pictures of moles all the time! It’s kind of what we do.” So the nurse brought me my purse and I whipped out my camera as the doc got the magical, numbing needle ready. Ohhhhh yes… bonding with my doctor. I am SO cool.

Two tiny pricks got me all numbed up…

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Yowzas. That needle huuuurt.

Then it was time for the doc to practice his pumpkin-carving skillz.

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Don’t slip!

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Work it…

And then it got ugly.

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Really? Did ya haveta gouge out *that* much?

But then I realized… it’s wasn’t so bad

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See?

Just some pale skin.

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Ain’t no thang.

Too bad it doesn’t look like that now… (For your sake, I will not paint a picture of the red, painful grossness that is going on underneath my bandage at the moment.)

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Battle wounds

Just know that in two to three weeks, I should be well on my way to healing. And in a few months it will just be a big, pale-pink, circular scar.

The doctor actually decided to biopsy another mole that was dead smack in the center of my back (read: between the shoulder blades). Because I am not flexible and bendy (I mean duh, I hadn’t been to yoga yet! Smile with tongue out) I was unable to capture pictures of that spectacular event. I know you guys are so sad. I’ll try to do better next time (except, hopefully there won’t be a next time…).

The doc actually wanted to do a third biopsy on a mole on my left calf muscle,  but then he decided he’d already had enough carving practice for the day. He told me to keep a close eye on it and if it started to change in any way, come back and see him.

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Left calf muscle, safe and sound!

So, what next? I’ll get my test results from the two biopsies in about a week. So for now, I’m just playing the waiting game. And do you want to know a secret? I suck at the waiting game. Hellooooo speculation, anxiety and sleepless nights.  Oh well, at least my mind will be preoccupied with my second epidemiology exam (blehh…).

Oh, and that hot yoga class I had visualized myself attending? Yeah, it didn’t happen. I was afraid it wouldn’t be a good idea considering the fact that I just had a huge chuck of skin carved out of my thigh. And my back. I was bummed. Buuuuut I made the best out of the situation.

When I got home from the doc, I took my little pupsqueak on a walk!

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NOISES!

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Pah-lantsss!

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Mommmm look how long my tongue is.. aren't you so proud?!

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Time to go swimming?

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Damaged goods

So, yesterday was an experience I was only half prepared for. But I guess that’s just a part of living life and growing up. Yes, I wish my momma could have been there with me (she is my ROCK and always knows how to make me feel better), but I am learning to find new sources of strength, and cultivate the strength I have within myself. Sure, I am anxious to hear back about the results, but in all honesty, who wouldn’t be?

This week will be a yet another growing experience in learning how to cope with things I don’t have control over. Over these past years I have learned to roll with the punches and accept that life does not always go as planned, and from this, I have realized that some things I thought were important don’t really matter in the long run. It’s who you surround yourself and experience life with that matters. And that is one area I know I am truly blessed. I am a lucky girl to have such amaaazing friends and a wonderful guy by my side. I don’t know what I did in my past life, but whatever it was, it rewarded me Ryan –I know I can always rely on him for some (major) laughs. Happy is great too, especially once it hits 9PM and she’s entered into zonked-out/cuddly-mode (anytime before 9PM means Happy=Miss Macho-Puppy and is all about gnawing my hand to show affection…).

Annnnway, I apologize if this post grossed you out. That was totally not my intention. I just wanted to share my experience and show the world that yes, people at 25 can go throgh health-scares… “old people” are not the only ones who are susceptible to skin cancer. I’ll make sure to keep y’all updated with how things turn out. And I’ll be staying plenty busy… seeing as I have a job to work, a puppy to entertain, a marathon to train for… and an epidemiology exam to ace (haaaaaaaa yeah right).

Have you ever gone under the knife? Do you deal well with situations you have no control over? Have you ever suffered from anxiety? And more importantly, do you wear your sunscreen?!?

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10 Comments

Filed under family, melanoma, my story, public health, Skin cancer

10 responses to “The Waiting Game

  1. Awwww I hate needles too : ( Im sorry girl, just glad you got that taken care of and its better now!

    Happy Weekend! xoxo

  2. Awww geez =( This whole day sounds like no fun at ALL!!

    I am awful at waiting too. And I CERTAINLY don’t blame you for having trouble waiting for these results!!! Hope everything comes back super quick and with nothing to worry about!

  3. I’m so sorry you had to go through this (and now have to wait), girl!! 😦 I can’t imagine. You’re really positive and have such a great outlook. I really hope everything comes back SUPER quickly!! You’re handling it so well! 🙂 ❤

  4. I was squiring all over my chair! You are so much more brave than I am! I could never take pictures of that. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping for speedy, negative results!

  5. You are so brave! I panic every time I go to any doctor! It doesn’t matter how many shots I’ve had I freak out and have to do some calming in my head chants..lol! I don’t know if I’d do good with having a mole removed?

  6. I think it’s great that you took pictures of the removal, and I truly hope your biopsies come back negative!!

  7. I havent been to the dermatologist in years…I know I should go. bleh. I hate cutting…

  8. Hey Allison! I totally understand the waiting game – and it is never fun! I had a biopsy for a lump in my throat (turned out to be cancerous but 95% of them are not) and waiting SUCKS. At least when you have the results you know how to approach a situation. Like you said, I learned a lot about how I handle situations and it truly made me grow as a person. I hope the waiting period goes by quickly and your results turn out as clear as day!

    (In the meantime, if you need to vent and/or want some tips on staying sane, let me know ;)).

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