Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nana's Changing Spots

I considered saving this little story to publish on October 23, known to chemists the world over as Mole Day.  I have to admit that I'm not exactly sure what a mole is in chem-speak, but ever since she took high school chemistry my daughter has called me on my birthday(10/23) to wish me Happy Mole Day.  So this is a story about moles, but not the chemical kind or the animal kind.

I spent the summers of my youth slathered in baby oil and iodine soaking up the sun in Southern California.  Trying to achieve the perfect California golden girl tan too often resulted in the red lobster look of sunburn.  Back then we didn't worry about UV rays and holes in the ozone.  My misspent youth as a sun goddess has come back to haunt me. 

Spots have spontaneously appeared on my skin.  Months ago I sat in a waiting room and read about the danger signs of skin cancer.  I made a mental note to make an appointment to get those suspicious moles checked...and I never made the phone call.   Finally in a flurry of activity earlier this summer I made appointments to get all body systems checked.  I had blood tests and saw my doctor.  I saw both the optometrist and ophthalmologist.  My eyes have "matured" so now I have new glasses.  One afternoon two weeks ago I made the trek to Pendleton to see the dermatologist.

Dr. Skin (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) has his office in a shabby Victorian house.  The exam rooms are on the second floor, up a narrow staircase with shag carpet.   From the exam table I could see dust bunnies around the edges of the well-worn wood floor.  Dr. Skin checked all my spots and found one on my back that he didn't like.  That one was removed, placed in a jar to be sent to the lab, and I was out the door in less than a half an hour.

I didn't lose any sleep worrying about my irregularly colored mole.  I think deep down that I just don't believe that anything really bad can happen to me.  I'd almost forgotten about the whole experience until the phone rang last week and I heard the assistant from Dr. Skin's office on the line. 

"Hell...ooo Yann" she crooned in her singsong accented voice.  "I have the lab results and it is anormal..."

I was frozen to the phone, focused only on the echo of what I heard.  Did she say abnormal?  Abnormal?  Not me!

"It's abnormal?" I finally managed to sputter.

"Yes, it is a normal mole" she says.  OH!  A normal mole, not an abnormal mole.

"Thank you for calling" I say and hang up.

See, nothing bad can happen to me.


  1. Oh, that is good news! My husband just had a dermatologist check him over, and he biopsied one that turned out to be cancerous. Not the melanoma kind, but squamous cell carcinoma, which is pretty common and needs to be removed, so it was. Good for you to get your entire system checked! My eyes have "matured" too, meaning I will need cataract surgery soon and have beginning AMD (age-related macular degeneration). *sigh*

  2. Nothing bad can happen to you. Lucky woman! I'm a chronic hypochondriac. At present, I'm experiencing normal aging changes, but my imagination takes off and works itself into a frenzy with the possibilities.

  3. Happy mole day! Age spots they call them now-a-days.

  4. I'm like Linda Myers. Wish I was more like you!

  5. I'm so glad you had good news! Those checkups are so important! Some years ago, I had a mole on my back (after years of Southern California sunbathing like you) and my internist shrugged and said "Let's keep an eye on it and check it again next year." But I happened to have some skin tags I wanted removed before an upcoming trip to Hawaii, so I went to a dermatologist I had seen several times before. He took one look at the mole and said "It needs to come off now!" The lab analysis came back and it was melanoma! I had further surgery to make sure every trace of it was gone and have been healthy for the thirteen years since. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had just waited another year for my internist to have another look.

  6. Phew! I'm so glad it was normal. I'm different than you and certain that my years spent seeking the perfect golden tan are going to come back to haunt me. Well, they kind of already are in the form of age spots which I point out to my daugther as examples of what sun-worshipping does to your skin.

    Anyway, I'm glad everything is okay. Hugs!

  7. I've never been one to "sunbathe," but I spent so much time in the sun when I was growing up. Surfing, swimming, or whatever. Back then of course there was no "sunblock." I've had a few spots either frozen off, or cut out. So far, nothing too bad. I try to always have sunblock and a hat on now.
    I'm glad your biopsy came out normal. I've played that terrible little waiting game a few times myself and don't like it one bit!

  8. Glad to hear it was normal. There are skin cancers which aren't frightening, lots of people have them, but for some the news can be grim. Best to get in out of the hot midday sun.

  9. You succeeded in making me worry for you and then laugh out loud. Clever writing, as usual. I'm so glad everything turned out, and glad you're getting those spots checked. I've had a couple of sun spots burned off my nose and I'm always grateful that's all it takes. What were we thinking putting iodine on our skin?

  10. Glad your momentary fears went unrealized and all is well!

  11. Ouch! This post made me think about making an appointment, too, but of course, I don't want to! I like to nag my husband to see the dermatologist, as he has been burned a million times (shirt less) and I just know there are cancer cells lurking, but he won't go.

    I'm so glad your mole was a good one, not a bad one!

  12. You are too clever...so glad that you are okay!


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