Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beware the Nevi

Unfortunately, I grew up with the skewed belief that if I kept at it religiously, I would become a person who tanned well. This led to years of blistering sunburns. I read somewhere that each blistering sunburn increases your chance of getting skin cancer by like 900%, so it’s no surprise that in the past few years I’ve had several basal cell carcinomas freeze-dried off my face, shoulders, and back, each time leaving a small, shiny, white recessed scar. (I call my doctor Mr. Freeze, like the Batman villain. He seems to get a kick out of it.)

It’s a highly unpleasant process.

We watch my moles like hawks. In the past year, a freckle beneath my eyebrow started expanding like it was Napoleon and my face was continental Europe. So the doctor shot novocaine into my head, removed the thing with a scalpel, and sent it off to be biopsied.

“I’d be highly surprised if it’s melanoma,” he said.

Never say the word “melanoma” in front of a pale person whose major regret in life is that her vanity led her down the path of sunburns, sun rashes, and some dehydration that may have led to mass faintings. Especially is she has libertarian leanings. She’s liable to go all Yosemite Sam, shooting at the ground and vowing to destroy melanoma varmints like she did when she discovered the sudden appearance of an ugly black mole on her chin. Thankfully, her self-diagnosis proved the spot to be completely benign (chocolate cake batter) and a crisis was averted.

(If I could go back and kick 16-year old Holly’s skinny little a@$, I would. Then I’d douse her with SPF 30 and tell her to stop skipping gym class; she’s gonna fail the semester and have to make it up her senior year.)

Last week, a nurse called me with the biopsy results.

“Your biopsy came back. It showed a dysplastic compound nevi.”

There was a moment of panic. A dysplastic compound nevi sounded like major cause for concern. I glanced at my poor sweet children who were playing happily with blocks, completely oblivious to the fact that I was suffering from a dysplastic compound nevi. The sun kept shining, my neighbor kept mowing his lawn, the world kept rotating in spite of the fact that I was sitting there with a severe case of dysplastic compound nevi.

“Oh no,” I said.

“Nah, this is good. That’s just fancy terminology for a benign mole. No cancer. Okay?”

I strongly believe she should have led off with the benign mole bit.

Crisis averted again. I remain happy, relatively healthy, and pale. It’s disconcerting, however, that the husband doesn’t seem to understand that I have to lay pretty low for the next month or so. I had a dysplastic compound nevi surgically removed from my eye. Or above my eye. Same thing. It was traumatizing. I demand chocolate pudding and popsicles.

And sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.


Elizabeth said...


I am paranoid about sunscreen especially with the harsh Aussie sun. My kids will thank me one day ;-)

Jessica said...

Great news!!! Sunscreen is our friend! Although I have recently heard that spray sunscreen (which I happen to think is AWESOME) is bad to use on kids because they may breath in the chemicals while you are spraying them. Geesh it's always something!

Amanda Gibson said...

Great news, Holly. What a relief!