Skin Cancer Awareness Month
By Dale Fenwick
Abigail Schroeder Johnston and Scott Plakon are my heroes. They have been sharing their difficult stories on Facebook and elsewhere. Their sharing has helped me better understand the effects of Metastatic Breast Cancer (aka Stage IV breast cancer) and Alzheimer’s Disease on the victims and their families.
Before I share my story, let me ask a question: When was the last time you saw your dermatologist? If it has been more than a year, consider this…
My dermatologic story began six months when an old skin tag on my back decided, out of nowhere, to bleed a bit one night. I had been trying to get my GP to remove it for a couple of years, but she didn’t think it was serious. It turns out she was right, but that was the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Solely because of scheduling convenience I decided to see my wife’s dermatologist rather than my GP. He said it probably was benign but would remove it and send it for testing. But near the skin tag were two moles that caught his attention. He scraped them, and the biopsies came back, “significantly abnormal.”
That diagnosis resulted in two minor surgeries in December. In retrospect to call them, “surgeries” seems a bit much. An hour in the doctor’s office. Local anesthetic. Yes, two-inch-long scars.
At the next appointment, we discovered a “melanoma in-situ” on my left side. Another surgery. Another scar (this one three-inches long). I am starting to look like a pirate.
A follow-up visit two weeks ago. Four more scrape-biopsies, all on moles smaller than a pencil eraser. The results came in a phone call late last Friday afternoon, “You have a Stage 2 Melanoma on the left side of your neck. We are referring you to one of the local cancer treatment centers.”
I spent much of the day trying to schedule my first oncology appointment. Surprisingly difficult and frustrating.
Not sure what is next, but I am sure that God will use this for His Glory and to advance His Kingdom.
To that end, what was your answer to my question? We are hoping and praying that God used that skin tag to motivate me to see a dermatologist before it was too late. But His purpose might also be to motivate you to schedule a check-up.
Dale Fenwick is the founder and former Publisher of The Apopka Voice and a longtime resident of Apopka. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dale and his family as he battles Stage 2 Melanoma.