Monday, September 13, 2010

Week of Sports

Whew, the last week was a whirlwind. Lot's to do and see in Seattle. We have an abundance of fanfare in this town and I guess this was my week to enjoy them all! I started it off with a Mariner's game in Safeco Stadium. My company usually sponsors a suite for our best customers about once a year - always a good time!

Then I grabbed a friend and headed across the Cascade Mountains to see some of the Ellensburg Rodeo in my home town!

Next I participated in a charity Golf Tournament at Newcastle Golf Course, benefiting Muscular Dystrophy. Again, ACS was a sponsor.

Then hit the Seattle Sounders FC match - courtesy of my friends sweet (suite) tickets!

Finally I watched the Husky game from the seats I won in a charity auction benefiting cancer research.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Melanoma... it's not really a beauty mark...

In the last couple of months I have noticed a crazy freckle on my lip that seems to have grown to enormous size! Of course, when things like that happen gradually over time, you tend to overlook the obvious. I mean, I was seeing it in pictures and wondering how/when it got big like that - but I wasn't paying that much attention to it. Friends who hadn't seen me in a while would comment on it. So I finally took a look back at some pictures from the last year and made some notes on the changes. The first photo to the left is from last September 2009. This is me on the plane to Greece! You can see one brown freckle on the right side. However, it's the faint brown spot on the LEFT that has grown!

Last summer, no freckle. By late September I could see the start of a brown dot on my lower lip. Over the months, the dot grew bigger and darker. The photo to the right shows the freckle in January 2010.

Here is the freckle in May 2010.
I had a suspicion that this was cause for concern, but I put it off because I felt like I had been dealing with too many other medical issues at the time. When my good friend Sheila told me to "go get that thing checked out" I had to comply. If you know Sheila, and what she's had to deal with (breast cancer) you don't say NO to her! ;-)

Finally in Aug 2010, I made an appointment with my dermatologist (Kelly Stevens at Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center ). I went in to see her last Friday, armed with some digital proof of the growth. She took one look at me and my photos and said that it looked like melanoma. She also brought in another surgeon for a second opinion. Yes, they both agreed that a biopsy was needed that day.

The biopsy was easy. They simply stuck a needle in my lip and gave me some numbing meds. Once I couldn't feel anything, they did a 2mm punch biopsy on the area. The tool looked like one of the small leather working tools I used to play with in my Dad's old leather shop in Bellingham! After the tissue was removed, Dr. Stevens sewed my lip together with a stitch and gave me some ointment to put on it for the next week.
I went to work with a bloody, fat lip that day. I couldn't eat or drink without drooling on myself! Not pretty! However, I had a weekend full of events with friends so I just had to suck it up and check my vanity at the door.

RESULTS: I received my biopsy results today and it’s good news! The pathology report shows no melanoma or skin cancer cells. Apparently it is just a sun spot or freckle that got huge. Whew! I go back to the dermatologist to get the stitches out on Friday. Then I have to wait for the lip to be completely healed (4-6 weeks) and they will treat it with liquid nitrogen to freeze off the brown mark. The freezing will blister and scab and should take about 7-10 days to heal. Again, not pretty for a while, but worth it in the end.

Hey friends, this is a good reminder for all of us to check our bodies and note any changes. Freckles, sun spots, and moles can be indicators of something more. Be sure to scan your own body frequently after a shower. Notice your own markings and keep mental notes. If you start to see changes in color, shape and texture of these markings, you might want to see a dermatolgist.

From the Mayo Clinic website: Characteristics of unusual moles/spots that may indicate melanomas or other skin cancers follow the A-B-C-D-E guide developed by the American Academy of Dermatology:

■A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
■B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.
■C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.
■D is for diameter. Look for new growth in a mole larger than about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters).
■E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.