I hadn’t really planned on writing about this, as it’s not necessarily about hair, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I should share our story and experience. I’m not sharing this to freak anyone out and get you all paranoid, but I write about this to bring awareness that no one is exempt. The topic today is skin care – focusing on Moles (and I don’t mean the ugly animal!) I mean those spots that show up on your skin and tend to be brown. And to be quite honest, I think it’s an icky topic when you get right down to it! But, again, this is to create awareness.
This week, you may have seen this little picture I posted on FB and Instagram showing Bug with a “cute blue headband” wrapped around her head.
I’ll explain a little more, but first let me back up and give you a bit of background. So backing up … backing way up … in my life …
When I was 13 years old I had a mole on my stomach that had started to change shape and grow. At the time I didn’t really know much about moles or skin care, but this much I did know – that if a mole changed shape or color I should have it checked out by a doctor. So we got an appointment with our doctor and he checked that mole along with others on my entire body. I had the one on my stomach, along with several other moles removed. I had one on my right leg that was the size of the head of a straight pin – one that has the round colored heads on them. Surprisingly, when the pathology report came back, the mole on my stomach was fine, but the one from my right leg came back as a melanoma. Yes, I was 13 and had a cancerous mole. It may be a more common thing these days, but 20+ years ago, the doctor’s were surprised. I had to have a bigger section removed around the area where the melanoma was and so now I sport a nice scar on my leg that is about 1 1/2 inches long.
Due to my experience as a kid, it’s made me be extra aware and cautious with the girl’s and moles that pop up on them and I’ve always tried to be faithful with sunscreen and just skin protection in general. When Bee was 4 I took her in to our Dermatologist because she had on that was growing on her neck and one on the heel of her foot that worried me. The doctor examined her and thankfully said there was no cause for concern.
Fast forward to a couple months ago…
Bug has had a couple moles right up in her hair line on the left side of her head. You probably haven’t noticed them though. Depending on how I did her hair, you couldn’t even see them. The mole the arrow is pointing to, was probably about the same size as the one I’d had on my leg. Smaller than a pencil eraser.
But the bigger of the two right by her hair started to be a bit more raised than flat and seemed to change color a little. The mole had always bugged me a bit because if I parted her hair off-center on the left, my comb would hit it. But then she scratched it a few different times & it bled. Then the color seemed to change again. So I decided to take her in to our dermatologist in July. The doctor looked Bug over and agreed that Bug’s mole on her head should probably come off due to the bleeding and changing that had taken place. But, she did think it would probably be benign (non-cancerous). Well, when the pathology reports came back, they actually found the cells to be abnormal. She said that at this point, they couldn’t say they were cancerous, but because they were “atypical” as they called them, they had concern that the cells would eventually go that way and because the cells were atypical, would be cause for concern. That meant we would have to have more tissue removed from around where the mole had been.
So on Monday morning, we went back in to our Dermatologist and did just that. It was sadly, a bit traumatic for Bug, as she tends to work herself up so much and has zero tolerance for pain. But she made it through, and under the circumstances, the doctor said she did great. She currently has 7 stitches right up in her hairline, (we’ll spare you the pictures, as I know people don’t always appreciate those kind of images!) but when everything is healed up, it will hardly be noticeable. At least that’s the hope!
I got a call from our doctor on Wednesday that the pathology report came back good and there is no further action needed. They were able to remove all the worrisome cells and she should have no further issues in that spot. We are happy to hear that because to be quite honest, I’ve been a bit concerned. We just will go back yearly for a check up since it is now known that her body can produce such things.
So …. why do I tell you all this?
I thought I was young at 13 getting a cancerous mole, but now Bug who just barley turned 9 had one that was pre-cancerous. And then after I posted that picture of Bug and her headband on FB, one of our readers shared that her son who was the tender age of 3 years old had Stage 3b Malignant Melanoma (the scary skin cancer) and it spread to his lymph nodes, which meant he had to go through chemotherapy and all the treatments to get him better. In a 2008 report from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Melanoma is the 2nd most common cancer in people ages 15-29.
Regardless of age, race, geographic location or gender —
No one is exempt.
It is so so so important to pay attention to your skin – and obviously I’m writing this because I think you should pay attention to your children’s skin. Take care of it. Protection from the sun is vital. When the girls are out swimming or anything I’m sure they have sun screen on — and if their hair is parted, I’m sure to put it on their scalp as well. Goose has one on the top of her head that we’re going to need to have looked at, come to think of it. Here’s a great info graphic on sunscreen and even though, the summer is coming for a close for us – sunscreen is still important regardless of the season. We tend to go with SPF50 or higher. And even being faithful with sunscreen, you can still have problems – we are proof of that.
The general rule between moles & a mole that can be cancerous (melanoma) is that generally a “regular” mole on your body has these traits:
- **1 color – Often brown, but a mole can be tan,
- black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned, or colorless.
- **Round in shape.
- **Flat or slightly raised.
- **Looks the same from month to month.
- **They can be anywhere on your body – and I mean anywhere
You may or may not have seen something like this before — but these are the ABCDE’s of melanoma:
And even if it doesn’t follow the ABCDE’s, if you are concerned about a spot on your skin, it can’t hurt to check with your doctor. You should definitely see your doctor if a mole has:
*bled/crusted over continually but doesn’t heal
* has changed (includes appearance of a new mole
* or if it looks unusual
For more information, talk to your doctor. *Disclaimer* I obviously am no doctor, but just wanted to share our experience in the hopes to bring about awareness and that you will protect your skin & pay closer attention to it, as well as kind of your cute little kiddos! I’m sure you or someone you know has been affected by skin cancer and we all can share stories. Let’s just try learn from them and not think that “It will never happen to me.” Because it can.
If you’ve read this whole thing, thank you. I know it was a bit long. But it’s a topic I feel is important and like I mentioned, we aren’t trying to scare anyone, we just wanted to share this to create further awareness for you & your children’s skin.