I spent my childhood in the sun. Growing up I was always outside kicking the footy or hanging out at the beach. In the 60s and 70s, using sunscreen was considered optional, and having a sunburnt nose and shoulders was mandatory.
This all changed in my early 20s. I realised through skin cancer ads that my fair skin and blue eyes meant I was more at risk. I also have lots of moles, mostly on my arms and body. So I started covering up, using sunscreen and wearing a hat. And I now see my doctor for regular skin checks.
At one of these appointments, the doctor thought a spot on my arm looked suspicious and removed it. The biopsy was pretty simple and didn’t hurt. I had it done in his office during my lunchbreak.
The mole was sent to the pathologist for testing and within a few days the doctor called to ask me to come back in for further surgery. I did suspect that it might be a melanoma but I was still shocked when this was confirmed.
The doctor said that we’d spotted the melanoma early and that it was likely the biopsy had removed it all, but that it would be good to take a 5 mm margin to be sure. I had some local anaesthetic, he cut it out and then it was closed up with stitches. The tissue was sent to pathology, and I was relieved when the doctor called to say it was fine and no further treatment was needed.
After the wide local excision, the wound looked red and was sore, but this improved within four weeks. I was given a cream to apply to my arm to help the scar heal.
I found the whole experience rattled me a bit. I’m thankful it was found early and the treatment was straightforward.