I went to the dermatologist this morning to get my annual cancer check. I'm pasty and my husband is paranoid. That's why I go, in case you were wondering. If it were up to me, the less doctor's appointments, the better.
I've had this mole in the middle of my back that has bothered my husband since he met me. Or at least since he's seen me naked, which was not immediately after he met me. I'm a lady. Sort of. Anyway, the mole is dark. Which I guess translates to "cancer" in mole-speak. Over the past few years I've had a a general practice doctor, an oncologist and a dermatologist all look at it. They said it was fine.
But my husband is a worrier. And like I said, I'm pale. Like really, really pale. Most of the time I'm wearing a layer of Jergens Natural Glow self tanner and I'm still the envy of field hands. Most people would be surprised to discover that I wear self tanner at all because I am seriously pasty despite my efforts. As I see it, the self tanner takes the edge of the deathly sheen.
In addition to being pasty, I'm old. Old enough to have grown up in the 70s when sun protection wasn't really a thing. I think I have vague memories of Coppertone 4 coming out and my parents using it on me when we went to Florida, but aside from that, I really don't remember my mom ever putting sun protection on me. I'm sure she will object to this. Most of my memories before the age of five are suspect, I admit.
|Exhibit A: Topless, hat-less and most definitely wearing SPF 0.|
But back then, your parents sent you out the door first thing in the morning and they didn't see you again until you were hungry. So maybe you saw them at lunch and then at dinner. We spent our summers in the sun. There was no, "Wait, let me put this SPF 75 on you before you go and spend 12 hours on the face of the sun." I also recall getting so burnt in Florida that I had to go the hospital. I was throwing up from either heat stroke or sunburn, it's hard to say. They both happened in the same window of time. In any case, SPF 4 was not sufficient coverage for a pasty white kid like me.
|My god, did they ever clothe me?|
My mother, on the other hand, used to oil herself up with Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil. She smelled like coconut cream pie. She was slick and slippery when you'd hug her. In the summer months, you'd often find her laying out on one of our folding chairs on the back patio. Chances are she'd be drinking a Tab, smoking a cigarette and flipping through Cosmo while she browned in the sun smelling like dessert.
Babies don't tan, Mother.
I didn't inherit my mother's ability to tan. I'm like my father — I pretty much alternate between pasty and burnt. There's no middle ground of "tan." That's not to say I didn't try to get a tan when I was a teenager. My friends and I would line large cardboard boxes with foil and lay inside them. We'd spread baby oil all over ourselves and shiver in the foil box over spring break in Michigan, trying to approximate the tan our other friends were getting on vacations in warmer climes.
Despite all my efforts, I never really got tan. I even spent a summer in the south of France as a foreign exchange student. I came back from the Cote D'Azur considerably blonder, but not much darker. Fortunately my failed attempts discouraged me from any sort of lifelong dedication to tanning. As soon as they came out with SPF 15, I was wearing it and I've worn every increasing denomination of sun protection as it has been unveiled.
My children, on the other hand, have barely seen the sun. I'm one of those freaky moms who insisted her infants wear long sleeves, pants and hats any time they left the house. In fact, I'm surprised they both didn't have vitamin D deficiencies. Now I slather my son with sun protection before he goes to camp. I send him with a baseball hat and tell him to sit in the shade if the counselors leave them outside too long.
It's a miracle he's normal at all.
Once he got a little bit of pink on the top of his foot from wearing flip flops and freaked out.
"Oh no! I have a sun burn! I have cancer!" he cried.
Okay, he didn't say the part about having cancer. But he did cry, even though his sunburn was just a sweet little pink blush. I wanted to show him the lobster red I had achieved as a child and say, "Back in my day when we had a sunburn it was a third degree burn and we were sent to the hospital!"
|Liar, liar, pants on fire.|
Anyway, this morning at the dermatologist, I told the doctor that I stay out of the sun and wear sun protection. She examined me from ears to toes. She asked if I had any moles I was concerned about and I said no. But then I reconsidered.
"Only, there is that one mole my husband is obsessed about," I said.
"Really? Let's see it," she said.
"It's the same size, shape and color as it's always been," I said. She was spending too much time looking at it and it was making me nervous.
"If it's something he's noticed we should take a look at it."
"I've had three doctors look at it and they said it was fine."
"Maybe we should take a biopsy of it just to be sure," she said.
"I'm not worried about it. He is. And he's paranoid. So there's no need to biopsy it or cut it off, I'm perfectly fine with it." I was rambling. Have I mentioned I hate needles?
"I'd feel better about it if we biopsied it," she said. The next thing I knew, I was lying face down on the table getting my back numbed with needles.
"Give me the green blade," the doctor said to the nurse.
"Give me the green blade," the doctor said to the nurse.
"Can we not say 'blade' when I'm in the room?"
"Green tool. I meant to say green tool," the doctor said.
Ha ha ha. Hilarious. I'm lying on a table in a paper gown getting my back cut open because I'm married to an obsessive (yet incredibly handsome) man. If the mole comes back positive for cancer he's so going to say "I told you so" and that will really irritate me.
I called him after the appointment to let him know that after all these years of worrying about the mole on my back, he would be pleased to know they had finally biopsied it.
"What mole?" he said.