My Kid Might Have Skin Cancer

Last month, for the first time in ages, I caught a glimpse of my 10-year-old son shirtless. As a private kid who’s been taking his own showers since the age of 6 and wearing swim shirts in the pool ever since, a bare-chested Boy Wonder is an anomaly.

So there he was with no shirt…and there it was, a big ugly mole. Once upon a time, when Boy Wonder was a wee thing, that ominous mole was a sweet little freckle. I told him it was an angel kiss that gave him special powers as the only mark on his otherwise flawless skin.

As he grew, more freckles and moles began to appear. While still few in number, I’ve always taken his sun protection very seriously. So seriously that he’s never experienced a single sunburn.

Yet, there he was with this big asymmetrical, elevated, multi-colored danger mole. A danger mole that failed every skin cancer test I could find online.

Obviously, I panicked. I do that. It seemed only fitting. I also put all that panic to good use by making an urgent appointment with his pediatrician, a man I was hoping expecting to brush off my concerns as just another failed attempt to make a mountain (or in this case, a melanoma) out of a molehill (pun intended). But he didn’t do that. Not this time. This time he was concerned. Gulp. Upon further inspection, he found yet another suspicious mole and sent us home with a referral to a dermatologist.

Fast forward three weeks later to today, the day of the long-awaited dermatology appointment.

While Boy Wonder was all too relieved to get out of today’s science test to see the skin doctor, I’ve been thinking the worst, praying for the best, and hoping the dermatologist in all his epidermal wisdom would take one look at those two moles, tell us they were nothing and send us on our way. He didn’t.

Instead he pulled out his fancy scope, inspected each mole, let out a couple, “Hmms” and finally said, “Kid, you sure do grow funny moles. We’re taking these off today. Very suspicious.” Grrrrreat.

If you’ve ever had a mole removed, you know how it goes. But as someone who has never been a party to mole removal, I watched in horror as they injected a numbing agent into the location of each mole, which in Boy Wonder’s case meant one injection in the chest and one in the face. There were tears, pleas to go home, and the desperate look of fear I haven’t seen cross his face since he was a toddler. Once the moles were good and numbed, removal was quick and painless.

Now comes the hard part – the wait. While the dermatologist never did use the words “skin cancer”, he stuck with “benign” and “malignant” instead, muttering those famous last words, “We’ll call you in two weeks with the results.” Not if I don’t call you first, doc.

We tend to think about skin cancer as one of those things only adults have to worry about, like paying taxes, thinning hair, or arthritis. It’s not; skin cancer prevention starts now, while our children are young. According to Yale Medical Group, “Sun exposure early in life is the major contributing factor to developing skin cancer.”

Friends, I know you all have your own struggles and challenges, but if you’re the praying kind or the sender of positive energy, would you mind sending a little our way? Fourteen days never felt so long.

For everything you need to know about skin cancer prevention and early detection, visit The American Cancer Society. And please, don’t make my mistake; give your children regular skin checks.

Do you have experience with skin cancer?

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