"Does this mole look weird to you?" "Katie, all of your moles look weird."


I have learned through my journey of Melanoma and "weird moles" that even if I get one person, just one, to go to a dermatologist and get their weird mole looked at, then I've done my job.

My story begins as many others, I am very light skinned, blonde hair, green eyes, and have a gazillion moles.  (Ok that may be a slight exaggeration but not really) I grew up on a swim team where we all usually got our annual first summer burn. I remember having aloe vera baths after our first swim meet. As a child you really weren't concerned about burning and 25 years ago neither were our parents. As I got older I fell in love with tanning beds and I even worked at a salon that had multiple stand up and lay down beds. I was in heaven because I could tan after every shift. I was told if you didn't burn you would be safe. Well, if we only knew then what we know now, right?  Even after having a mole biopsied off my back when I was 16 and it came back as a mild pre-cancerous mole, I still didn't know the danger I was facing every time I laid in a tanning bed. I was advised to see a dermatologist at least once a year for the rest of my life. I did, for a while.

My story continues on to when I was pregnant with my first child. My gynocologist first saw my suspicious mole on my chest and said I needed to get that checked out ASAP. At my next appointment I asked her again about it and she said that it really didn't look too bad but I should keep my eye on it.  As I was growing a human being in my body I spaced out about my "weird" mole and continued on with life.  

Fast forward 5 years (I know!).

I now was 30, had two children, and one large, black, very weird looking mole on my chest. I had asked two doctors if they thought it looked like melanoma and I was told to just put sunscreen on and make sure I didn't get any serious burns. Also, at this time, I was having some major problems with my acne (thank you baby #2 :)) and was referred to a dermatologist. When I finally made an appointment, I made sure to sneak my mole in there so he could take a little peak at it. He didn't like it. At. All. He took the mole, along with two others. He really didn't care about my acne at that point because all he could see was my potential melanoma.  

Two weeks later I got a call that will forever change my life. Stage Ia melanoma. Considering the amount of time I waited to get this mole biopsied, I am extremely lucky and I know this. Stage Ia is manageable and has the best survival rate. Although I now have a huge scar on my chest, it could be a lot worse. I have continued to go to my 3 month check-ups and have had: stage 1a on my chest, 2 mild moles, 3 moderate moles (one on my face right above my lip, OUCH!!),  and 1 melanoma in-situ on my arm. I once asked my dermatologist if a mole on my arm looked weird and his reply was, "Katie, all of your moles look weird."

So this is my life: cutting, stitching, waiting, hoping, fearing and wondering. Who knows what the future holds, but for now I am just glad I'm healthy and happy.  

So, if you have a spot that YOU think is weird...get it checked out. Now. Don't wait. Because really who knows your body better than you do.  

Fri, 2014-05-23