**Warning: some pictures included in this blog post may make someThere are three ways I usually describe myself; a mother, a wife and a nurse – in that order. When one of my children are sick, I respond like a mother, not a nurse. My eldest son loves telling the story about when he needed stiches in his chin. That his mother, who has no problem watching surgeries and dressing unsightly wounds, passed out and hit the deck like a sack of potatoes while watching him get a local anaesthetic.
readers feel uncomfortable**
readers feel uncomfortable**
My husband treated me like a nagging wife when I mentioned, on Christmas Day 2009, that he had a funny looking spot on the back of his upper left arm. He told me it was ok, and he’d keep an eye on it. I had thought I would mention it since it was on the BACK of his arm where he couldn’t see it. He also discarded my mum’s concern a few months later.
Summer rolled around again and I said to him; “Remember that spot I said looked funny at Christmas? It’s gotten darker. You should get it checked”. Once again, my concern was brushed off with cries of “It’s fine. It’s just a freckle”. Honestly, what could I do?? it wasn’t like I could chop his arm off and take it in to a Doctor’s office.
Anytime he had a Doctor’s appointment I would say, “get him to have a look at your arm”. Of course, the reply to this was the Doctor was running late, or he forgot. I even circled the darn thing with a red sharpie for one appointment, thinking if he forgot to mention it, the huge target I had drawn on it might have attention drawn to it.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, my Dad says to me, “Jeff may want to get that thingy on his arm looked at”. Hmmmm, what the one that mum and I have been pointing out for just over 2 years?? So, I relayed this information to my hubby that my Dad thinks he should get it looked at. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I found that he had made a Doctor’s appointment to have it looked at on the Tuesday.
So, off he went for his appointment and I think he was a little surprised when the Doctor said he would need to have a shave biopsy done on it and have it sent of to Pathology. The flip side of that is he came home and showed be where it had been shaved off and said “See. This is all he did”. On Friday, he was called back to the Doctors as they had his results.
That little black speck, that became an spot, then a splodge was a malignant melanoma. The Doctor went through all the paperwork with hubby and told him that they would need to completely remove the melanoma and a margin around it. I think he was still fairly nonchalant until the Doctor drew an outline on his arm to show him just how much skin they needed to remove.
On Monday morning, Jeff had the melanoma and surrounding skin removed.
Now, honestly you would think the size of the dressing would have given him some idea about just how much skin he had had removed. He was more concerned about the size of the freaking bruise!
By Friday, the dressing was looking a little gross so I morphed from wife to nurse and redressed his wound for him. He asked if I could take a picture so he could see it properly. I wish he had seen it earlier, because it was the moment he actually saw the 21 stitches in his arm, that he realised just how much skin had had to be taken and how much damaged that little splodge caused.
Like many people, Jeff had dismissed spot on his arm as a freckle or a mole. As an adult, he has always been sun-smart, so he wrongly assumed that it couldn’t be anything serious. “Melanomas can start in the skin or parts of the body that have never been exposed to the sun” (Cancer Council Victoria, 2011).
So please, if someone mentions to you that a speck, spot or splodge on your body looks a little strange or they think it might have changed shape, taking 10 minutes and visiting your Doctor to have it checked out could save your life. I’m sure you’d rather it be checked and be told it’s nothing than having a chunk of your skin removed.
For further information head to Sunsmart where they have examples of what to watch for, a step-by-step skin self-examination and other very useful resources.