Apparently, I am the picture in the dictionary next to the phrase "high risk for skin cancer". Fair skin, pale eyes, light hair, excessive sun exposure as a teen, burn easily, +50 moles. [Though, I still am not wholly sure whether some of my moles are freckles or freckles are moles.] I actually didn't even realize how many of the risk factors I had, but since we moved here two years ago, I have occasionally thought that I should probably see a dermatologist to get all my freckles and moles checked out. Then in late August or so, Eric mentioned that the rather large mole on my back looked different to him. I spent 3 days or so expecting to die at any moment from a melanoma. A few more people looked at it for me (luckily it was bathing suit time - rest assured I have not been going around town lifting up my shirt asking people to look at my back), and all seemed to think it didn't look scary.
Then about a week ago I was messing around with another mole I can't actually see myself on the back of my neck under my hair, and I thought, Yes, I really should call and get them checked out.
Even though there are like 250,000 people in the area where I live, I could only find 2 or 3 dermatologists here that actually do medical things and not just botox or whatever. The one I decided to call has a very substantial website and one of the new patient information pieces said that most people are scheduled out about 6 weeks for a first visit. So I called Monday thinking maybe I could get an appointment before Christmas. But they had an opening yesterday! That hardly even gave me time to worry about it!
Yesterday was my appointment. I particularly wanted to draw their attention to 3 moles: big back mole, under hair mole and 2 mole cluster on the side of my neck.
The PA asked me why I called, and I told her that Eric thought the big back mole looked different recently and it made me think I should get checked over for baddies. (I didn't actually say "Baddies" but that is what I was thinking.) So she started with my back and pretty much immediately told me that it was a normal mole, though a little large.
Oh, but this other mole on your back (which of course I can't see and didn't even know was there) is suspicious. So she left the room for a second and came back with a dermoscope.
This is the PA checking me out with a dermoscope if my PA was a man
who looks sort of like Harold Ramis
Quick check of the big back mole and she said again that it is a normal mole, but good on Eric for paying attention to it. Check of the other back mole, and apparently it is a baddie.
To save some time: the rest of my many moles were looked over. She dermoscoped a few and none offended her.
So then we talked about the baddie. She decided to do a scratch biopsy to be examined by the dermatologist to determine whether it has "abnormal cells". She gave me a speech about how abnormal cells do not necessarily mean that I have melanoma. She never used the C-word.
The scratch biopsy was kind of disgusting to think about. She numbed my skin and then seriously took a razor blade and cut off the top of my mole! And then she showed it to me! That was gross.
And now, we wait. Approximately 2 weeks, though 2 weeks from yesterday was Thanksgiving so I don't know how that will impact the timing. If there is nothing shady happening in my mole, then I will get a little card in the mail and will go back annually for skin exams. If I get a phone call from the office, then that means the results were not normal and I will go in to figure out what is going on.
I'm thinking the odds that they are going to tell me the mole is normal, after her immediate reaction that it was suspicious and looking at it through the dermoscope and again thinking it was suspicious, are probably slim. But I am am not obsessing over having melanoma either. Instead I am thinking about the way God works - that I have had this big back mole for as long as I can remember and it isn't a baddie, but is weird enough that it encouraged me to go in to the doctor, where they could then discover the undercover baddie I didn't even know I had. And here I am getting myself all freaked out about these 3 intimidating moles and trying to control and plan and run the show, when all the time there is apparently something else going on that I don't even see or know about.
I have a friend from college who is a missionary in a foreign country that persecutes Christians. She sends out emails every few months that have to be written in code, her situation is that dangerous. A few months ago she emailed an update and in it included a quote from another missionary she knows where she is. I love it:
“In my experience, when we go through times of great difficulty, delay, and uncertainty—when we are forced to wait and trust—God is doing 3 things: He is providing what we need to endure, He is protecting us from dangers we can’t discern, and He is in the process of giving us something better than what we wanted in the first place.”
For the next 2 weeks or so, I will be waiting to hear if this is the situation God has placed me in for now. I can, at least, identify with the "dangers we can't discern" part.