Lifestyle

My Mole Scare

Bit of an odd subject to talk about but I think in a world full of people who constantly worry about their appearance more than their health at times, it’s a biggy.

About six months ago, I noticed a mole on my upper left arm was changing colour and size. Initially I told my mum about it and she told me to take a picture of it and see if it changes at all over the following six weeks.

Guess what? It did. Not ridiculously, but enough for me to notice. I went to the doctor (not my current one anymore) and he told me they were all fine and to ‘keep an eye on them’. Everyone seems to tell you that.

Roll it forward three months, I’d been on holiday, got back and the mole I had the most concerns about had now changed colour and shape, and it was also getting quite flaky. Doesn’t sound attractive but that wasn’t my main concern at this point.

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Mole – Pre-removal

I went back to my doctor again, this time at a new surgery and ultimately, a new doctor, who asked for the history of the mole and suggested that I have it removed as a precaution. She didn’t think it was melanoma, but you can never tell unless you have a biopsy and referred me to my local hospital. I left with a form explaining what would happen next and, I have to be honest, it did freak me out a bit. On top of the paperwork it states, in big, bold, letters, ‘POTENTIAL CANCER SCARE’, and it lists next steps, reasons for being referred and other important information. I received a hospital appointment about two weeks later, inviting me in to be seen by a Dermatology Specialist.

I arrived at my appointment, filled out a questionnaire and was invited through. The doctor was lovely, very to-the-point; wanting to know what moles I was concerned about, why I was concerned about them and where they are on my body. He then told me he was going to give me a quick full body MOT, which I was not prepared for and wanted to warn anyone else potentially going through this that this is standard practice, and will most probably happen are your appointment. I had come from the gym (attractive I know) and was wearing my ‘wash day’ underwear. The grey/off-white giant ones everyone saves for a slob day, not for public viewing. I nipped into the adjacent room, stripped down and let four people – yes four – come in and have a poke around my body. Everything gets looked at and felt, boobs, butt, front butt (for those who are squeamish), even in-between my toes were looked at. It does make you a little self-conscious but hey, I would rather be naked and they check that nothing was wrong than fully clothed and something is missed.

Next up, I sat on the bed (still in my undies) and a clear gel was applied to the moles I was concerned about. One was on my face and obviously, my upper arm. A small, magnifying glass was then applied to the gelled area and the mole was inspected by the doctor and a trainee. The good news, my face mole was fine, the less good news, they weren’t sure what was going on with the arm mole, so they thought it would just be best to remove it. I was given time to get dressed and went back through to them to get the removal schedule in.

I left, and about a month later received my biopsy date. Due to the fact the removal is done under local anaesthetic, you have to have someone come with you to drive you home. I have a real, real fear of needles, and someone (usually mum) has to come in because I panic. I’m not even joking here, I’m talking eyes bawling, going pale and nearly fainting sort of panic, it’s not nice to see and it’s even worse to experience, and this happens every damn time. You can imagine my shock then, when I was told that I wasn’t allowed anyone in the room with me. I had to hold a nurse’s hand or sit by myself, and there was no way I was going to do that.

When in the biopsy room I was told to lie on the bed and get comfortable. The area the mole is located is cleaned, and a generous amount of local anaesthetic is injected into the skin to numb it. Once numb, the area is covered and the mole is cut out with a scalpel and a heated tool to cauterise the skin. That’s the unpleasant part, burning skin stinks. It’s horrible and I think that was actually the worse part of the whole procedure.

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Mole – Day of removal

In terms of size, not only do they cut the mole out, they also cut a little further out to get some of the surrounding area tested and they then finish the cut in an ‘eye’ shape, so that it can be stitched together in a straight line. I ended up with three external and three internal stitches, as well as medial tape and a big plaster put over the top for good measure.

That was it, I was free to go. Forms were filled in and I was told results would be in within a month, sometimes longer (as it was the Christmas period). I received my results today and, thankfully, they are all clear, but I definitely consider myself one of the lucky ones.

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Mole – One week after stitch removal

When the plaster is first removed, it’s actually quite scary looking, your skin has literally been cut away and stitched back together, it’s never going to look nice. After about a week I noticed the stitches pulling and tightening. It’s totally normal, and means it’s healing, it’s also normal to feel quite itchy on the actual cut and the surrounding area. I also used Bio Oil when the stitches were removed (another appointment for this!) and it’s definitely helped make my scare look at lot better, I barely notice it anymore.

MoleRemoval4Mole – Approx 6 weeks after removal

From this experience my advice would be to never be too careful. If you have a mole or any skin concern, regardless of how small a change, it’s worth getting your doctor to look at it. If you’re currently going through this, or are worried about any mole, please feel free to comment, tweet or email me any questions through, but I hope this simplifies the mole removal procedure.

Side note: My mum is a cancer nurse, which means I am subject to a lot of medical terms, issues, signs and symptoms. I don’t claim to know anything, nor do I diagnose people just because I think my mum might have spoken about it before. It’s just handy having her around the house at times!

 

Thanks for reading,

S x

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