Did you know that May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month?
Well, me neither, but I recently read a post over at The Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms about preventing skin cancer which reminded me that I’ve had “Schedule Skin Check at the Dermatologist” on my official To Do List for the last, oh, five years or so.
If there’s one thing that a freckly, pasty, aging, former tanning booth user like myself should be doing, it’s getting skin checks every year by a professional…and not just with a magnifying glass I took from my kid’s toy box like I’ve been doing in lieu of an actual medical examination.
Skin cancers are on the rise, but for the most part they are easily treated when caught early. So what have I been waiting for?
It’s just like the time I put off getting that colonoscopy (for four years). That ended up being far less crappy than I had envisioned, and truthfully, the skin check was a walk in the park.
There are a few things I learned from my first trip to the dermatologist that I’ll know for next year’s visit:
1. The skin check requires that the doctor look closely at your skin- obviously. Not wanting to go in looking like the elusive Sasquatch, and hoping that the doctor would be able to see my skin without having to brush my leg hair aside, I knew I needed to do some maintenance. As I set my alarm an extra 20 minutes early so I could shave, I thought that seemed a little sad…then it became down right tragic when it took me even longer than the allotted 20 minutes to do the hair removal. Note to self, consider shaving above the knee more than 3 months a year.
2. Avoid people the day of the appointment. I was told to not wear any makeup for the skin check, which makes sense, and I guess I forgot how terrible I look when I don’t have my face
spackled brightened with cosmetics. I ran into a friend at the gas station, and I said simply that I was on my way “to the doctor’s office.” Well, between my nonspecific comment, and not wearing any makeup, my totally well-meaning friend looked at me with concern, scowled, and said, “Well, I hope you feel better soon! Get some rest; you look terrible!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her the aforementioned doctor was the dermatologist and I felt fine, so I just faked a cough and hurried to the appointment before I worried anyone else with my haggard appearance.
3. Generally I feel fairly happy with my body. I’d call it a combination of a healthy body image and a general lack of shame, but I have to admit feeling a little self conscious as I was examined. Want to test your self confidence? If you ever feel really good about yourself, you can put it to the test by standing in front of a *stranger in your bra and underwear as they look over your entire body through special glasses, sometimes with an extra magnifying glass, and see how confident you really feel. (*Don’t pick any stranger, stick to dermatologists).
4. I have no idea what a suspicious spot looks like, because apparently, I didn’t have any. I was prepared to have the dermatologist say I needed two dozen freckle like spots burned off my face, but to my surprise nothing was abnormal. I was most relieved by one small area above my lip which has caused me some anxiety over the last couple months. However, the doctor assured me, upon super-close-up-inspection, that it was nothing and had I been a man I probably would have shaved it off by accident (it’s in my mustache). Maybe I just need a sharper razor…
So that’s it – nothing to report other than I spent an abnormal amount of time shaving all but the worrisome freckle from my mustache. Having a stranger stare at my body while I stood in my undergarments shook my self confidence a bit, but not nearly as much as my friend thinking I had contracted a serious illness but really I just had left the house without makeup on my face.
I hope if you haven’t signed up for a skin check, you’ll follow my awkward lead and get one for yourself. The Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms even have resources for free skin checks in your area. Check out their post here.
I know I’ll be getting mine every year until time travel is invented and I can go back and kick my twenty year old self out of the tanning booth.
Pale. It’s the new tan. Tell your friends.