Making Pro-Active Decisions for Better Health

by Carrie Pokrefke

I decided earlier this year, that part of being healthy means that I must be proactive about my health.  And, I realized that, ultimately, my health is in my hands.  I can make decisions that are healthy or unhealthy.  We are all faced with those decisions on a daily basis.  Now, there are things that are genetic or a result of our environment that are out of our control, but we can decide to do (or not do) things that can help our situation and positively affect our quality of life. 

Earlier this year, one of my co-workers talked about going in to have all her moles checked.  So, a few weeks ago, I went to the dermatologist to have all my moles checked out, in an effort to be pro-active.  I am by no means an expert of what a questionable mole looks like, so I trust the professionals to make that determination.  Plus, it’s really hard to see EVERY mole on your own body! 

She looked over all of them and called notes out to her nurse to record.  During that first appointment, she biopsied two moles.  I honestly thought the one on my wrist she thought was questionable was a freckle.  Let me say that I can’t handle medical things well and having those spots biopsied was not fun. 

I waited a few weeks and found out that the other mole that was biopsied off my side was flagged and they needed to remove it.  I went back in for a second time and had the area removed.  I ended up with 4 stitches, which is actually the most stitches I’ve ever had in my life.  Again, not fun.  The results have already come back, and everything looked good. 

I think it is very important for people to check their moles on a monthly basis.  If you see something questionable during your monthly self-exam, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist immediately.  Being pro-active can be the difference between having a small, “questionable” area removed or having an area turn into skin cancer.  Please educate yourself and others on the dangers of skin cancer and what you can do to help prevent it. 

To learn how to perform a self-exam, watch this video from the American Academy of Dermatology:

http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/understanding-skin-cancer/how-do-i-check-my-skin/how-to-perform-a-self-exam/how-to-perform-a-self-exam

They even have a “body mole map” for you to record your spots during your next self-exam:

http://www.aad.org/File%20Library/Global%20navigation/For%20the%20public/aad-body-mole-map.pdf

If you want to know what to look for, here is an “ABCDEs of melanoma” cheat sheet:

http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/understanding-skin-cancer/how-do-i-check-my-skin/what-to-look-for/what-to-look-for

So, watch the video, print off the “map” and go do a self-exam!  And please encourage people you know to do the same!! 

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