I was getting into the shower when I noticed it. An unfamiliar shadow suddenly cast over a mole that I’d had for as long as I could remember.
“That’s weird,” I thought, as I moved back toward the mirror to get a closer look. A dark, asymmetrical speck that had no business on my backside, had seemingly appeared overnight, taking up residence and threatening to take over its perfectly round and caramel-colored counterpart that had lived there for years. Per usual, though, I was running late and didn’t have time to dwell on a silly little mole, so I went about my day.
“Too busy” to go to the doctor, weeks went by before I gave my new addition any more thought—“I’m sure it’s nothing” running through my mind whenever any semblance of worry would creep up. But then it started speaking to me. Not in the literal sense, of course (I’m not that crazy), but rather in the form of tingling sensations and constant, dull throbbing.
An uncomfortable annoyance, that damn mole was becoming increasingly harder to ignore. But again, I waited.
Even after it began bleeding, I came up with logical explanations: “It’s probably just the mic pack rubbing against my mole when I teach spin” or “Maybe it’s that one pair of jeans (that I rarely wear, mind you) with that scratchy tag?”
One, two, three…nearly four months went by before I finally went into my dermatologist and expressed my concern. “Hmm,” she said, as she inspected the blackish-brown blob with her magnifier. “I’m 98 percent sure it’s nothing, but I’ll biopsy it just in case.”
A portion of the 3.5″ scar left behind from my surgery to remove the tumor. For reference, the mole was smaller than a pencil eraser (just shy of 6 millimeters).
That shadow; that dark, asymmetrical speck; that silly little mole; that “nothing” turned out to be something…Stage I malignant melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Had I continued to wait it would have continued to take root in my body and there’s no telling what would’ve happened. I was lucky, but I also want to stress that it was my self-awareness that brought this darkness to light.
No one knows your body the way that you do, so start paying attention to changes to it and listening to your gut and intuition. It could very well save your life, as it did mine.
For more information on melanoma, who it affects and what to look for, head to the Health & Wellness section of my blog (or click here), where you’ll find several helpful resources that I’ve gathered from the Melanoma Research Foundation. And then, I need you to do something (and this is very, very important). I need you to #GETNAKED and CHECK YOUR SKIN! I know it might seem weird that I’m asking you to strip down to your birthday suit and scan your body—experts recommend at least monthly—but I like you and want you to live a long and healthy life. Promise me you won’t let a busy schedule—or a silly little mole—get in the way of that, okay? Okay.
If you have questions about my melanoma experience or want to talk through your own concerns, please don’t hesitate to email me, post a comment, or direct message me on Instagram. I truly, truly want to help.
– S A D Y E E V Y N R E I S H
Photo credit: Milou & Olin Photography