“It’s nothing, I’m fine.”
Sound familiar? Some people just don’t like the doctor. Whether it’s fear, busy-ness, shame, discomfort, or something else, many choose to stay away. In fact, psychologists even have a name for this phenomenon: health information avoidance.
But when it comes to skin cancer, avoiding screenings or a diagnostic test could be life threatening, especially for people with a family history of melanoma, a personal history of frequent sunburns, and/or fair or heavily freckled skin.
We asked people with advanced melanoma what they would say to someone who didn’t want to ask about a mole for fear that it might be Melanoma. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Early detection saves lives.
“Always remember NOT asking may end up being a death sentence. Really! I had no idea that this small little black mole would and could change my life forever! So go get your sh-t checked.“ – Hope
“I am a living example of how taking action on a suspicious mole can make a huge difference in positive outcome.” – Anon
“Don’t wait. Get it checked right away. The faster it’s checked and removed the better your chances. This is one of the ‘don’t procrastinate’ diseases. It only gets worse on its own.” – Lisa
“I openly discuss that just as it is important to go to the dentist [or getting a] mammogram once a year, that seeing a dermo should be in your overall health mix. Your skin is the largest organ. It’s good to always know.” – Regina
“Knowledge is power. The best way to move forward and address the situation is to see what you’re dealing with. On one hand, it may be just a mole and nothing of concern. On the other hand, it may be something that needs to be addressed and the earlier you know, the more options you’ll have to deal with it effectively.” – Jacquelyn C.
“Do it quickly. Don’t hesitate. This disease thrives on procrastination.” – Lisa
2. It’s normal to be worried.
“I felt the same way and ignored mine for 2 years. I wish I would have asked in the beginning and maybe I would have been Stage 0 or 1 instead of 3B.” – Sara
“I was scared and didn’t tell anyone. My family doctor saw it on my back, and called a surgeon at that moment. I was told after surgery [that they had] never seen a case that bad.” – Anon
“There is always risk, but it is better to know now rather than find out too late. Any form of cancer can be scary but with support it doesn’t have to define you.” – Anya
3. Don’t let the cost of a test stop you.
“Cost should not be an option, nor should fear, when deciding whether to get something checked out. Something caught early can save you plenty of stress and money. ALSO, even if you do NOT fit the criteria for concern, I am proof [that you should] get something checked out! I am a brunette Mexican with only 2 of the 10 risk factors.”– Melissa
4. Getting screened or having a mole tested isn’t that bad.
“Melanoma is so treatable when caught early, but it isn’t a cancer you want to spread. Having a skin biopsy is nearly painless, and even in the rare instance that it does come back as malignant, there is hope!” – Tara
“There really is nothing to fear. Medicine today is so advanced. Melonoma runs in families. Does anyone in your family have skin cancer? Please have yearly skin checks.” – Debby
“Give yourself a second to breathe while you are in the waiting room and tell yourself you’ve got this. It’s as simple as getting dental work done. ‘I’d rather get a tooth pulled?’ Nah, it’s just a doc looking at your skin for now. 1st step. Everything else is just another step. Stay positive.” – Lisa
5. When it comes to melanoma, trust your gut.
“I had a melanoma on my leg during my skin check. My doctor missed it. I pointed it out to him and he said, ‘Oh, well we should probably test this just in case’. You really have to be your own doctor. Listen to your gut.” – Anonymously
“My friend told me a mole on my chest looked different, red. I thought it was from my seatbelt rubbing on it. I’d had the mole all my life. I went to the dermatologist, she shaved it, and the pathology came back Stage 3b, ulcerated! I have metastatic melanoma and had NO SYMPTOMS.” – Janine