Tell Me It’s Not Melanoma!

I have a MOLE?!

I have a MOLE?!

Last week, when I stood up from the gliding rocking chair in my home office, I felt a pain/itch on the back of my left thigh. I wandered into the bathroom to check in the mirror and see what hurt (I was hoping I hadn’t picked up another tick—I had THREE tick bites this summer).

Due to the location of my owie (half-way between the bikini line and the shorts line), I ended up using my phone and the three-way mirror above the sink to snap a photo. Much to my shock, it appeared that I had a MOLE! A pencil-eraser sized, asymmetrical mole with an angry red border and uneven surface.

I texted the photo to Pedro—who had left that morning for a business trip, and asked him if he thought I should be concerned. Well, we both know our ABCs of skin cancer, and he confirmed that maybe I should get it checked out.

My uncle died of melanoma back in the 70s. I drove to urgent care (50 miles away). The physician’s assistant on duty took one look at it and said, “Hmmm. I think I would get that checked out by a dermatologist as soon as possible.” He left the room and returned with a 40-pound medical school reference tome. He flipped to the page on melanoma and showed me the photo of typical melanomas—the THING on the back of my leg (which hadn’t been there several days earlier) looked just like the first photo illustration.

The PA handed me an info sheet on melanoma and I started calling dermatologists. At 4:50 in the afternoon, I could only find one open. The soonest emergency appointment available wasn’t until the following Monday—registration day at school. I took it.

I got back into my car for the drive home with images of me hobbling around on one leg and learning to run with one of those athletic prosthesis legs. Next, I imagined all of the bills piling up (we’ve been through cancer once already, so those bills loomed large and real).

My family! What would my family do if I had melanoma?! I racked my brain (and resisted the temptation to research melanoma on my phone whilst driving) trying to remember which was the ‘good’ kind of skin cancer to have—Melanoma? Carcinoma? Neither sounded pleasant. The hour-long drive home went by in a daze while my overactive imagination ran through every possible worst-case scenario.

When I arrived home, I called Pedro and let him know I’d be missing some work on Monday afternoon to drive 90 miles in the other direction to have my mole biopsied. The days seemed to drag by. I spent a lot of time talking to God, journaling, and watching hummingbirds when I should have been writing lesson plans and cleaning my classroom.

If God guides the smallest of his creatures as they migrate thousands of miles, I know He will guide me though every trial I face.

If God guides the smallest of his creatures as they migrate thousands of miles, I know He will guide me though every trial I face.

I felt at peace. I knew that no matter what that THING turned out to be—God was with me. (click to tweet)

Monday finally arrived, and the dermatologist took one look at my mole and said, “I’d like to take that off.” The mole had changed slightly in the intervening days—it had more red and had gotten bigger.

“Please do!” I exclaimed. “It’s been giving me the heebie-jeebies since Wednesday.” The shave biopsy took less than ten minutes to perform, and the sweet doctor promised to call me as soon as the results were in.

I hate waiting.

Wednesday night, whilst watching an episode of Downton Abby (we’re still on season three—so don’t give me any spoilers) with Pedro, I noticed that I’d missed a call and had a voice mail.

The dermatologist’s office had called to tell me they had the biopsy results (at 7:59 at night? Really? This must mean I have melanoma if they called so late and didn’t actually TELL me the results). I could call when they opened at 8:30 this morning.

Somehow, I slept last night. I had everything arranged—where I would go for staging and treatment, how I would break the news to our daughters (why freak them out until I knew the biopsy results and had a plan?), and how I would be brave.

This morning, my fingers shook a little when I dialed the dermatologist’s office. After I explained why I called, the chipper lady on the other end of the line said, “Let me look up the biopsy results…” and I waited some more.

“Oh, here we are. Dr. Wyatt wanted me to tell you that the biopsy showed a cluster of very bruised cells. No further treatment is needed. Have a great day!”

I may have floated back into my classroom.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Oh wow!! That is so scary! God is amazing and you learned good news in the midst of praying and waiting. Happy Friday and weekend to you!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Five Minute Friday-TellMy Profile

    • It was scary–and I tend to focus on worst case scenarios a little too often–so this was a good exercise in waiting and finding peace. Have a blessed weekend :).

  • Whew! What a relief!

    • Amen. And I’m going to be more careful about sun exposure in the future (not that I ever try to get a tan, but being religious about using sun block certainly won’t hurt me!).

  • What I loved about this story was the part between making the appointment with the dermatologist and going there. What happened between?

    You drew near to God.

    Blessed by His provision in your life and glad you are healthy! –Your FMF neighbor
    Karly recently posted…how to tellMy Profile

    • While we (ok especially me) hate to wait, I have often found that the waiting is where the growing takes place. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Woo hoo!!!
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: TellMy Profile

    • :). I am blessed.

      • barbara gibson

        There is not a worse place to be then in the land of limbo…I hate it there when every imaginable thought turns into the unimaginable terror…Nights do not help as at least by day we are busy enough to shoo the thoughts to the back yard of our mind,where they only lurk in the shadows,when night comes our heads become a choir with all the tones of real fear .I am so glad you found a bruise and I completely understand as forever after Pedro you will hold your breath when ever the “C” thought comes …much love sweetie..and keep sharing..somehow you make awful sound a little bit better with your words..

        • Aw, thank you for your kind words and YES! Our minds can go all over the place way too quickly–kind of like Bambi on ice ;).

  • Oh how blessed you are! Two of my nearest loves have been diagnosed with melanoma. It is not an easy road.
    Linda@Creekside recently posted…The Joy of UnsubscribingMy Profile

    • Oh, Linda, I’m so sorry your loved ones have to walk the cancer path. May God be with them and with you on the journey.

  • I am so thankful for this good report! God is good!
    Barbie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: TellMy Profile

    • All the time, God is good. Thank you for stopping by, Barbie.

  • Well, that’s a relief!! So glad you got it check out and that they were able to tell you some good news!
    Holly Barrett recently posted…TellMy Profile

    • You’re telling me! God knows just how much I can handle at a time, that’s for sure!

  • Stopping by from Five Minute Friday. The title of your post really caught my eye, because I had two melanomas removed in 2001. Thankfully they were superficial, and completely removed. I am diligent about yearly checkup, and always use my sunscreen. I’m so thankful for you that your mole was not melanoma. Blessings to you.
    Leah Adams recently posted…Five Minute Friday: TellMy Profile

    • Oh, I’m so glad you’re doing well, Leah! I wasn’t so diligent about sun exposure back when I was a teenager, and I’ve certainly gotten better over the years. But now I’m going to really take skin care seriously!

  • So relieved that your biopsy was negative! I know how scary that can be. Isn’t it frustrating to wait, not only for the test results but also for the initial appointment with the specialist? When I called for one after getting an unclear mammogram, the woman in the scheduling office said something like, “We have an opening in two weeks.” What? Don’t you know this is an emergency??

    So, so glad you’re okay. Stopping by from FMF today.
    Melissa recently posted…How Do You Tell? – Five Minute FridayMy Profile

    • Oh, I agree completely about how long it takes to get things scheduled! It drives me batty. Thank you for stopping by, and I hope your unclear results didn’t bring any bad news!

      • Thanks, Anita. I was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer in 2011. After surgery and radiation, I’ve been getting clear reports for three years now. This year my doctor moved me into the survivorship program!
        Melissa recently posted…How Do You Tell? – Five Minute FridayMy Profile

        • I’m so glad! Welcome to the Survivor’s Club!

  • Amy

    I have to admit I had to skip to the end of your post to find out the results because I couldn’t wait. I am so glad it was all negative.
    Amy recently posted…Tell {Five-Minute Friday}My Profile

    • ;). You made me laugh, Amy! Thanks for being the kind of friend that checks the end first when it sounds like a crisis!

  • Oh how our minds race with all the scary possibilities! So glad you’re just fine.
    Jennifer Hall recently posted…3 Things I’ve Been Thinking AboutMy Profile

    • It’s crazy, isn’t it? I’m working on being more positive during the wait ;). Thanks for stopping by!

  • Donne

    I understand what you went through. My doc discovered a small, pea-sized lump on Thursday and ordered a diagnostic mammogram. Fortunately, I was able to get an appointment for 8 am the next day. Even more fortunately, after the mammogram and an ultrasound, they had me wait in the room until the radiologist read the slides. Everything turned out to be just fine. But, like you said, the imagination sure kicks into overdrive! Thank goodness we don’t have to face these challenges alone. 😀

    • Phew! I’m thankful that we both came out ok on this round of scares. And I’m so impressed with your medical system that they got you in the next day and that you got to hang out while they read the results! Amen to not having to face things alone–it’s so much easier knowing that no matter what, God is with us (and our families, of course!).

  • Alisha Starr

    I skipped RIGHT to the end to see the results and THEN went back to read the middle part . . . my heart was in my throat whist scrolling . . . Praising God with you today, Anita!!

    • Thank you, Alisha! We have so many things to praise him for, don’t we?! One of them being good health. God is good. All the time.

  • I’m so glad you don’t have melanoma! What a test of patience. I would have had the same or worse reaction as you if I had to wait several days to find out if I had what killed your uncle! 🙂
    Laura Melchor recently posted…The First ResidencyMy Profile

  • Praise God, Anita! I can totally relate to your imagining hobbling on a prosthesis (I always imagine the worst case scenarios.)

    But that DOES sound scary. So glad you got it done quickly.
    Betsy recently posted…More Jesus; Less Fretting and FumingMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Betsy! I’m glad I’m not the only one out there whose mind jumps to the worst case scenario at the first hint of trouble! Thank you for stopping by :).

  • So glad you are okay! My heart was lurching through the story; I can only imagine how you felt!
    Beth recently posted…That SummerMy Profile

  • SO GLAD!!!!
    Kirsten Oliphant recently posted…Stupid Simple: Bacon Wrapped AsparagusMy Profile

    • 🙂 It certainly was a weight off my back!

  • Because I am a wuss baby, I skipped ahead to the end because I was too worried and then went back and read it all once I knew it turned out okay. So glad it did!
    Susan Maccarelli recently posted…Beyond Your Blog Podcast 006: Lisa Nolan – Anthology Guru, Founder of Monkey Star PressMy Profile