Run!

Brake Check

Melanoma.

Not a word you want to hear your doctor say. Then for them to say it again… and in the plural. And in that tone of voice.

I was cocky going into my biopsy appointment. At this point, I have had more biopsies than I can count and have become a little numb to it all. I hate needles, can’t stand them but a scalpel? Why not? Makes no sense at all.

I wear sunblock. Most of the time. I wear high necked tank tops to run in. Most of the time. I wear hats to cover my head and my ears. All of the time. I’ve worn some form on SPF on my face EVERY day since my first biopsy at 16 in high school. Was I perfect? No. Did I like some color on my arms and legs? Yes.

After the call from the doctor came- telling me that both biopsies came back as melanoma, I went a little numb. I think I faded out on the phone call as well. And while I have good insurance, it does require hoop jumping. One of those hoops is that my next procedure couldn’t be scheduled for 2 weeks. 2 weeks of the unknown, fear and worry. But no Google. I knew if I went down that road, it wasn’t going to be pretty.

It’s been weeks of stress, poor sleep, worry, stress eating, emotional shopping, doubt and worry. I think I repeated myself. Did I get lazy and not use enough sunscreen in the last few years? Probably. I missed my annual checkup in 2020 due to COVID, would that have made a difference? Doubt and hindsight go hand in hand until they drive you crazy.

Some of my coworkers know exactly what is wrong, others just know something is wrong. Actually my mother has told more people than I have. Thanks mom.

What gets me is that I know what to look for, I know all about the ABC’s of skin cancer. and the pictures they show you as examples. Hell, this isn’t my first post about my history. Often what the doc takes to biopsy looks nothing like those pictures and it’s a spot I’ve barely even noticed before. Both of these were exactly like that. I had to hunt through running pictures just to find one that showed the mole on my left arm. It doesn’t look like anything! And yet, it is the worst of the two.

Yeah, my angles suck.

I had my secondary appointment a week ago and they went back for more. I am now owner of a fun row of internal and external stitches that pull and itch as well as the now painful realization of how damn often I use my left arm. I drive with my left arm, use my mouse with my left arm. Desk phone at work is on the left side as is the printer. The table next to my comfy chair for tv watching is on the left side- full Yeti’s are heavy! But pain for a short period of time, I can handle that for a good response.

I don’t have all the answers nor do I even know all the questions. I’ve moved a little from stress and chaos into trying to just deal with whatever comes… oh and trying to find the humor in things. There are multiple appointments in the weeks to come and I need all the positivity I can get. But I can say it out loud now and even type it as well. That’s something, right?

Oh and wear your damn sunscreen!!!!!

Run! · Slacker rules

Don’t Forget Your Ears!

Slacker PSA here.

As runners we spend a lot of time in the sun.   Morning, noon and evening, overcast or not, we’re in the sun.   Even if you only run in the gym on the treadmill you still have to walk to and from the car, right?   Do you commute?  Do you drive?  Ever considered how much sun the left side of you gets?

I had my first biopsy my sophomore year of high school.   I brushed against a wall during a dance show rehearsal and a mole on my back started bleeding.   Probably not a good thing.   My mom took me to the dermatologist.  They actually performed 5 biopsies to check for melanoma that day.     Thankfully, all of them came back in the clear but considered me scared.

The thing about fear is that life gets busy and things fade over time.  I’ve worn sunblock on my face and neck every day since then.  Every day.   I do my best to put it on everywhere else before every run.  Weekends, I’m a pro.  Week nights can be hit or miss.   I know better.

This classic runners tan is with sunblock. And yes, I am a very mole-y person.

I’ve lost count of how many biopsies I’ve actually had, I know it hit double digits years ago.   From the top of my head to the top of my feet.   My most recent battle exrwounds are on my upper right side, my brow bone and my butt.   Yeah, that last one still hurts.  😝


If you’ve been with the blog, or my IG, for a while you may have noticed most of my running selfies this year include a hat.  That’s not normal.   I have a small head so running type hats and I have never gotten along.  Nothing fit right and I always felt too hot in them.  I tried visors but never felt like they did much.  The whole top of my head was exposed.   While I do love my new favorite hat, there is also a practical reason to rocking it.    The trucker covers more of my head but lets the air flow too.  As for it being too big?  That’s now a good thing- it covers the tips of my ears.


Doctor’s verdict- my ears have serious sun damage.   How did I forget my ears?!   Face and neck every day but I forgot my ears!   Grrrr.   Lots of pictures were taken of my ears to track the changes over time.    On the positive side- I was just notified that these last biopsies were also clear.


So, even though I am by no means an expert, here are a few Slacker tips-

  • Sunblock!!! All day, every day.  And not just SPF 15.
  • Hats!   Even if you think the hat looks weird- wear it anyway!
  • Drive a lot?  Don’t forget your left side!
  • Think you put on enough sunblock?  Put on more.
  • Tans are not that cool. Really.
  • Check those moles- keep an eye on how they change.
  • Don’t forget under your hair.   A really good hair dresser can actually help you with this one.
  • Don’t forget your ears!!

 

What did I forget?