Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Melanoma In Situ

What is it? Well, I've got it. And, I'm none to happy about it either. Melanoma in situ is skin cancer of the outer-layer of the skin. In situ means, literally, in it's place, meaning that the cancer has not spread to the deeper layers of the skin. It's also considered Stage 0 skin cancer, with Stage V being the worst. This is good news, according to my dermatologist. He caught it early and the treatment merely involves a small surgery to remove the spot. However, I'm a bit unsettled nonetheless. Yes, I'm covered with moles or freckles, as I like to call them. And, I spent a good 15 years worshiping the sun with the goal of getting the deepest darkest tan I could by June. Often this involved baby oil, with iodine added for extra measure. No idea what the iodine did except stain my skin, but I did it. So, I have every risk factor imaginable. But, I'm still a bit scared by the whole experience.

I went to the dermatologist about a month ago for a plantar's wart and he suggested a "body scan" while I was there. He "scraped" two spots at that visit and scheduled a surgery to remove two others that were bigger and deeper. One of the spots on my leg I've been watching for several years and had examined by a crack-pot dermatologist about a year ago who said it was fine. Dr. Glassman took one look at it and said it needed to go. I dragged my feet on scheduling the surgery for a time when it was convenient for me and finally had it done about 10 days ago. Last Tuesday he called to drop the "melanoma in situ" bomb and said I needed to come in ASAP for additional surgery to make sure they get "clear margins" (i.e., at least 0.5cm of cancer-free skin around the site). I went that day and now have a nice 2 inch scar on my leg with internal and six external stitches.

I'm just a bit unsettled and haven't quite processed all of this. Truthfully, it is good news, but it's news that I'd rather not have. I'll go back for future scans every 4 months and he'll likely continue to scrape and dig at my skin for many years to come. I'm OK with that. I'm on an anti-sun campaign right now. I ordered some sun-protective clothing from LLBean. We have every type of sunscreen imaginable. I'm in a hat all the time and avoid the sun like the plague. And, I'm about to go get some new prescription sunglasses. You can do me a favor by getting into healthy sun habits and getting a body scan if you haven't had one in the last year. Please.


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