Knowing your ABCD’s

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you. In order to be successful then, you must learn how to react quickly and when you swing and miss… well, then you just get back in the box. Ready for the next pitch.

I shouldn’t be allowed to write sports analogies but I draw a blank when I try to think of another example. 

Several weeks ago I went to visit a new doctor. He’s a dermatologist. Besides being thirty-“something” and figuring it was an adult thing to do… I had been breaking out recently and wanted some topical meds stronger than what I was finding at my local Target.

While there we began talking about tanning. More specifically, tanning beds. 

Over the last 16 years (or so) of my life I have had an on again – off again love affair with the tanning bed. I knew it was bad for me. But I’d be drawn back to it. Time and time again. The ‘feel good’ state from the tan and the vitamin D kept me coming back for more. There were even times in my life that I bordered on ‘tanarexia’. I could never get tan enough. I even contemplated going tanning twice in one day in high school. Luckily, I lived in a small town (only one tanning salon) and the owner would know if I tried to pull 2x in one day. I remember joking “I have to die of something… at least I’ll look good”.  <<— such a foolish idea!

The doctor decided to have me put on a gown and do a full body exam. He looked at my arms. There’s one mole I mentioned had caused me some issues a month or so ago. He wasn’t overly concerned but took a picture to document. Then he looked at the lower half of my legs. All good. Examining my back he noted several spots to the nurse. I knew I had lots of spots but hearing about them all started to make me queasy. He moved around to my front and examined my upper chest. He told me I need to keep special eye on several spots. I thought he was done.

But he wanted to examine my stomach. I lifted the top and he immediately said “oh, we’ve got a problem here”.

My stomach sank. WHAT?!

On my left rib cage I have a mole that’s troubled him. A biopsy was required.

Doc took his time explaining all the reasons this was concerning. Following the ABCD guidelines: Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter




My little mole had all four symptoms. 

Doc shared a story with me… that I will not soon forget.

A coal-miner took a much needed vacation with his wife. The went on a two week cruise. On the final trip back to port and heading home he asked his wife to stop by the gas station. He was going to by some cigarettes. “Why?” she asked “You don’t smoke?!” He replied, “True, I never have. But I need to get my lungs ready to go back to work!”

Sounds awfully silly, doesn’t it? That is what we sound like when we say we need to tan before a vacation. To get the base color. Or so we don’t burn. We are just accelerating the damage to our precious skin.

Five days ago I had my mole removed. I have to wait at least 3 more days until I get results from the lab. I’ve had this mole as long as I can remember. (One year at camp, I thought it was a tick!) but I can’t say what it has always looked like. I tell myself over and over that it’s nothing.

But it is something.

It has changed my outlook. It has broken my addiction to tanning. I will always wear my SPF 30. And I will always do my monthly self-exams.


2 thoughts on “Knowing your ABCD’s

  1. good for you. i’ve had to come to the same conclusions. watching my dad go through surgery, chemo and radiation(and eventually death) made me realize just how i need to treat my body that much better. eating, tanning, exercising, sleeping all can contribute to whether or not you will have cancer.
    plus, i want to look young forever. and not “young” in a real housewives kind of way.

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