UPDATED: 98% Sure It’s Not Cancer

A good news update and giant band aid at the bottom!

I have a skin thing on my face near my eye.

I first noticed it towards the end of my second pregnancy. Because getting weird pigmentation skin things during pregnancy is just one of the many havocs our hormones wreak, I only offhandedly mentioned it to my doctor. She told me it was a sun spot (also known as a liver spot. awesome.) and said that she wasn’t worried, but I could see a dermatologist if I want to remove it.

I wasn’t ready to admit to that level of vanity so I accept my old lady skin and moved on. I found a smaller one on the other side of my face, increased my sunscreen usage, and named them Dotty and Molly.  Of course.

A few months ago, Molly, the one by my eye, began to change. She hit puberty and grew one boob.

In medical school we are taught the ABCDs of moleage:

A. Asymmetry: when half of the growth is a different shape than the other half.
B. Border irregular: when the growth has uneven edges.
C. Color varied: when the growth is more than one color.
D. Diameter: when the growth is bigger than the diameter of a pencil eraser.

To which Molly and I answer yes, and then I repeatedly remind myself that most moles are nothing more that ugly.

But I had a patient. A patient who had a spot in the exact same spot as Molly. Except his Molly was malignant melanoma. Melanoma is not the skin cancer granddads have taken off once a year after too many golf games. It’s bad news skin cancer. It’s like Molly on crack with a gun. It’s like Molly on Charlie Sheen.

This particular patient caught the cancer early and did great.

But it’s hard to put him out of my mind.

So I tell myself it’s not cancer.

And 98% of my mind agrees.

I see the dermatologist at 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. I’ll update the post after my appointment. And it’ll probably end the update: LOVE, A DRAMA QUEEN.

UPDATE: The derm doc said: My gut tells me it’s benign but we’ll biopsy it so we can both sleep better at night. So I’m glad I went. But I need someone to draw on my GIANT band aid so I can be the coolest kid in school. Any ideas?


Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

50 thoughts to “UPDATED: 98% Sure It’s Not Cancer”

  1. Funny, I’m going to the dermatologist today about a mole too! I’ve always had a mole in the crease between my neck & chest. It never bothered me until I had kids. Then, the kids were like, what’s this thing on mommy’s neck? And proceeded to pick at it (yes, I’m a picker and apparently the twins are too!). Then I started to realize that this mole has grown, a lot. Since I’m getting tired of saying “stop picking at my mole”, I’m going to get it removed. I, too am a little nervous, but mostly about my vanity as this spot is always visibile unless I’m wearing a turtleneck. Good luck with Molly!

      1. I was told it was totally benign and because if it’s prominence on my neckline, if I didn’t want it to look weird, have a huge scar, or have it possibly grow back even grosser or speckled, I should see a plastic surgeon. I guess that’s my next phone call!

  2. I need to get my moles checked, an probably most of them removed. Here’s hoping you’ve motivated me enough to call today.
    Good luck!

  3. Aiee! Fuckity fuck! Drama queen or not, you are immediately updating us on this!

    My mom just went through 11 weeks of daily radiation for a squamous cell carcinoma (her fifth) and a dear friend of mine died from melanoma, so you are wise not to mess around with that shiz!

    And yeah, who names their moles? Yet another reason I love you.

    As for oddities that pregnancy brings, I got skin tags. Under my arm and under my boob. GROSS.

  4. I have a mole on my upper thigh that I’ve been convinced is cancerous for over a decade. Yet, it hasn’t changed in that time, so clearly my massive procrastination is providing a diagnosis of its own!

    (Yes, I am ashamed of that story.)

    (Good luck!!!!)

  5. I’m glad to hear that you’re getting it checked out! I hope that you’ll update us today instead of waiting until tomorrow. May Molly be nothing other than one of those many seriously-is-it-really-necessary-to-have-yet-another-less-than-dignified-thing-happen-to-my-body-during-pregnancy things.

  6. Pregnancy gave me two–one for each 9 month stint, I’m assuming–dark patches on my upper lip. In the dead of winter they are easily covered up with make-up. Once I’m outside for the three months the sun is out here in the Midwest, they darken and I start to look like Charlie Chaplin.

    I hate funky skin business.

    Please let us know the skinny after your appointment.

    1. In case you missed the update: The derm doc said: My gut tells me it’s benign but we’ll biopsy it so we can both sleep better at night.

      And in a month when I go for my follow up and all-over skin check, I may discuss Dotty. For pure vanity that is.

  7. Bravo for not avoiding the doc. It’s best to face it head on. We’ll have a memorial service for Molly, soon. And then you can dance on her grave and be happy it’s not cancer.

    1. As per your request…i.e. drawing on your band aid….I’m on it. Check your email.

      I can’t help myself. I’m addicted to Photoshop.

  8. I completely agree with you going to the dermatologist … I have been scared lately at the number of young people with cancer in and around my life … breast cancer striking girls that were freshmen in high school when I was a senior … and unfortunatley I did have a girl I graduated from high school with pass from melanoma at 32 … so I am overly cautious about these things now … and even with your medical training … being scared and cautious is normal … even if it is only 2% of you 😉 lol … I also commend your ability to joke about all of it … as always … I love your sense of humor!

    1. Because of the increase in skin cancer my derm actually said they recommend an appointment once a year from age 30+
      Thanks for appreciating the cancer jokes. You never know how they may come off. Of course, that’s my problem most of the time on any topic…

  9. Glad you got it checked and they biopsied it. I’ve had more moles removed than I can count. Once, one came back with a possible cancer diagnosis and they had to go remove more. I cried for days until I could go back to the doctor because I just knew it was going to be cancer, and I was going to have to have chemo, and lose all my hair, and be really sick, and possibly not be able to have children because the chemo and radiation would kill my girl parts, and so on. Of course the second biopsy came back clear.

    So, compared to that…you aren’t being a drama queen at all! Way to take it like a champ!

  10. The Late Enough logo is clearly the perfect size for that band aid. Take it out of one your little button/pin things and glue that bad boy to your band aid. Easy advertising.

  11. I just went to the doctor for a mole patrol the other day! It must be the season for mole removal. I’m uber paranoid about any sort of mole looking thing, which I guess is a good thing. Nice work on being cancer free, Molly the Mole! I think you should bedazzle your band-aid some how. Perhaps a giant pink jewel?

    1. Ooh, I was very tempted by the bedazzling. But in the end my Nana strong-armed me. Or just suggested something and she’s 85 years old so WINS. Post going up in a few.

      Did your mole turn out ok?

  12. I’m glad you went! I had one on my back a few years back. I decided that it was male, and named it Ramone. Let’s just say that I’m glad I broke it off with Ramone. Not melanoma, but still not good!

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