Two years ago, a total stranger may have saved my life. Now I feel like it’s my responsibility to share this health warning with people like you too.
Growing up, I always played in the sun. These were the days before “slip, slop, slap” became such an important message. I’d spend hours by the beach without even thinking twice!
Apart from the occasional sunburn, I never really had a problem with my skin though. As I aged, it got softer and pigmented a bit, but nothing out of the ordinary.
At least that’s what I thought! One day, a trip to my local shopping centre changed everything. Has something as serendipitous happened to you as well?
I was lining up at the Deli to order some ham and olives, when a mother in 30s tapped me on the shoulder. “I’m sorry to bother you”, the young mum said.
“I just thought I should let you know… You’ve got a funny looking spot on the back of your neck”. Maybe I seemed shocked, because the young lady went on.
“I work at a mole clinic you see, I’ve looked at so many different pictures… Maybe just get that one checked out”, she finished.
Rubbing my neck, I was instantly worried. Had I noticed a spot back there? The skin she’d pointed too was just beneath my ear, how long could a spot have grown for? Who even looks behind their ears?
“Thank you so much for telling me,” I said, heartfelt. Without her, this issue could have gone unnoticed. I was so grateful a stranger had stopped to care, even though I felt sick with concern already!
The woman gave me a business card for the mole clinic where she worked, and then took her kids to the fruit section. “No need to thank me”, she said as she hurried off.
Looking back now, I realise this was my “little miracle”. Such a tiny exchange can change your life, and that’s why I feel obligated perhaps to write this piece.
I booked an “urgent” appointment at the mole clinic, mentioning the lady’s name and saying that she’d noticed a spot on my neck.
Before the appointment, I studied my neck using two mirrors. A small dark freckle was hiding behind my ear, and I didn’t remember it looking so “obvious” before then. Touching the spot, it felt dry and scaly.
Within a few days though, I had my results. “It’s a Stage 1 melanoma”, the doctor confirmed. “You’re lucky we caught it so early though! Another six months, and this could have been much worse”.
I couldn’t believe my stars! If that lady hadn’t taken the time to speak with me, a complete stranger, I could have been facing even more serious skin cancers!
As it was, the doctors removed that melanoma spot from my neck. I also needed biopsy results, to confirm no other skin in the area was affected.
It was a scary experience, and not something I ever want to go through again. Feeling like your body is “under attack” is a horrible thing. Fear of “the unknown” is even worse.
Thankfully, my results came back all clear. This truly was a blessing, and I’m so grateful for my “second chance”. For the next two years, I went back for regular biopsies around every three months.
One day, I encountered the lady who had helped me working at the mole clinic herself. “Thank you SO much for letting me know about that spot”, I said again.
“It means so much that you took the time to help”. She wouldn’t accept my praise though, saying it’s ‘just what people do’.
The truth is though, a total stranger might have saved my life. Now I want to pass this message on to you: Always slip, slop, slap and PLEASE take care in the sun.
Check your skin regularly, and if you’ve got any worries, head straight to the doctor. Don’t let these things wait until it’s too late. This could be YOUR second chance.