Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I've Got You...

This is going to be a little different from what I typically post.

Consider it a Public Service Announcement. Or one of those segments on the local news where the newscaster looks seriously into the camera and intones “Coming up next: A new way you’ve never even considered by which your child can die horribly”. Unlike the local news, however, I won’t keep you waiting for 27 minutes through the happy-face weather and the sports wrap-up.

A friend of mine did the responsible thing last month. She took her mid-thirties body to the Dermatologist, to get all of her sun damage checked out. The doctor was telling her about the kind of moles and freckles he doesn’t want to see, the kind that are potentially dangerous, and my friend felt a chill.

“Uh, Doctor,” she said. “My son may have one of those on his head, under his hair”.

The Doctor had her bring in her son from the waiting room. The doctor found the original mark and found another small mole on the kid’s head, He declared them both meriting removal and biopsy. Keep in mind, these moles would not have drawn the attention of even the most anxious mother without the doctor’s warning. I saw the first one. It was a small brown mole, about half the size of my pinky nail, with a little black dot in the middle. And they had to come off.

The kid is five years old.

It took a week to get the biopsy results, which put my friend through hell. She was then told one was fine, but that the other needed a second opinion, which put her through hell walking on broken glass for another two days. The results were that these things definitely needed to come off. They weren’t melanoma yet, but they certainly had the potential to become melanoma with very little warning. Apparently, this child has a predilection for this kind of cell growth, so they will keep an eye on any freckles or moles he might have or develop. But they got everything, and he will now be more closely monitored, which is the good news.

If you have a kid, I want you to ask yourself:

1. Do you know what a normal mole or freckle look like? How about an abnormal one? Have you ever asked a doctor?
2. Do you know where your kid’s freckles and moles are? If he or she is old enough so that you aren’t seeing the whole body with frequency, does your kid know to keep an eye on them?

Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the US and throughout the world. It is the most common cancer in adults age 20-30.

My friend lucked out. Her son lucked out. I want any child of a mother reading this to end up being exactly that lucky.

We will now return to our regularly-scheduled programming.


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