The Case of the Little Red Dot (aka The Naughty Little Skin Cancer)

Friday, November 13, 2015
We're going a little off topic today, but I think it's something that's really important, especially if you have fair/easily sun burnt skin.

If you follow me on instagram, you may already know that I had a little basal cell carcinoma (BCC) taken out of my hairline a few weeks ago. What is that? Well, it's a skin cancer.

One week after my stitches came out - cover the wound in flesh covered tape, and it almost looks 
like there's nothing there! I have to wear the tape for 6 weeks to help the scar tissue heal flat.

Now, let's not get all dramatic here. If you're going to have skin cancer, this is probably the best kind to have. They are very rarely life threatening, especially when caught early, and catching them early is easy enough since they tend to grow very slowly (as in, I've had mine for at least 5 years, and it was still only a surface level cancer).

However, it's still best to catch them and get them out sooner rather than later.

I know this has nothing to do with sewing (except that if you do have one taken out, make sure to tell the doctor you're a seamstress. My surgeon mentioned he was being extra careful to make sure he made the neatest stitches possible!), but I really wanted to tell you about it because I only accidentally found out mine was a skin cancer at all!

Can you see that red dot on the left (my right) in my hairline? That's what was taken out. These photos were taken after I'd had a biopsy done to find out if it was anything to worry about.

Sporting a 'hairline dot' after the biopsy was done in August. So inconspicuous!

Like I mentioned above, I've had it for at least 5 years now, since well before we left Sydney. It started out as a little pimple in my hair line that just never really went away. Every now and then, it would flare up, but then it would heal again and just stay pinky/red.

It wasn't until I was sitting in a waiting room at the beginning of the year, reading a magazine while patiently waiting for someone to take my blood (I had no idea how many blood tests were required during pregnancy you guys!!) that I just happened to read an article about someone who had the very same thing, except on her chin.

She was a nurse and it was a colleague who pointed it out to her one day and mentioned that she should get it checked. She too had had it for several years, and it had also started as a pimple that just never went away. It didn't bother her and so she ignored it, much like me, but it turned out to be a BCC.

"Hmmmm, that sounds familiar..." I thought to myself, and made the decision to have mine checked out asap.

The day it came out - 15 stitches later, and a bit oozy and numb.
I was totally feeling the 'Bride of Frankenstein" vibe with real stitches and real trickles of blood. 
Now if only NZ did halloween, and I actually had somewhere to go (and could be bothered)... 

Now, I'm well aware of the fact that I have very fair and sensitive skin. I don't know if you noticed, but I'm covered in freckles and moles. I wear sunscreen everyday and regularly check my moles and freckles for changes. But it had just never occurred to me to monitor other areas of change in my skin that weren't moles or freckles.

We're often reminded that skin cancer generally pops up from/around a mole - I'm very aware of what an aggressive melanoma looks like - but we're less frequently told that skin cancers can pop up randomly, anywhere, and not necessarily take the form of a mole or freckle. If I hadn't been sitting in that waiting room reading that article, I'd more than likely still not have any clue that this little red dot in my hair line was actually a skin cancer.

I've still not had the results to let me know that they got it all out, but even if they didn't, it's easy enough to go back in and take a bit more out. It's not the worst thing in the world.

So, my friends, check your skin, wear your sunscreen and hats and be wary of any skin lesions that don't completely go away or heal. Then go and get them checked by your doctor, just in case.

xx
J

~ End of Public Service Announcement ~
32 comments on "The Case of the Little Red Dot (aka The Naughty Little Skin Cancer)"
  1. Sometimes it just needs a friend to point something out. Well done for sharing and thank you xXx

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    1. You're welcome!! I totally agree, especially when things come on so slowly that you actually never end up noticing until someone points it out. It's always nice to have someone point things out, it's easy to not see the wood for the trees :)

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  2. Thanks for this post! I'm very fair-skinned but honestly don't dwell in the sun too much, but now I feel like I need to be more conscious, wear some SPF cream every day and keep a close eye on everything...

    Also, not to make light of a serious topic, but your tie-in with sewing...too funny :)

    Glad everything is well, though!!!

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    1. I was totally making light too :)

      I'm not obsessive about checking, but it's definitely changed my perspective on what I thought skin cancer looked like. Because I'm covered in freckles and moles, I always assumed if I ever got a skin cancer, it would come in that form.

      If you wear moisturiser every day, just get one with spf already in it and then you don't have to remember to apply anything extra, that's what I do :)

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  3. Excellent post - and brilliant way of keeping it sewing related, I hope you gave your surgeon some feedback about his stitches!! Hope everything is now back to being hunky dory x

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    1. Thanks Sabs! He did a great job on the stitches! Not that you can see the scar well, because it's covered in tape, but when I change it it's looking really good. So, fingers crossed it'll heal to the point it may not be noticeable any more :)

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  4. Thanks so much for your story. I'm as fair skinned as you and I had no idea about this type of cancer. I just went to check my moles. So glad that everything is okay with you.

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    1. Hi Nadja - I'm so glad this is useful to you! I had no idea they could look like that either, so I figured that others were more than likely in the same boat. I'm pretty sure everything will be fine :)

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  5. Glad you got it sorted, and a great reminder - my other half has that fair irish skin that doesn't do so well in our sunny climate and I'm always bugging him to get his annual check (and I think he's let it go by again).

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    1. Oh, fair skin!! I have Scottish and Welsh skin, so I totally feel ya! Plus, we have such harsh sun in NZ and Aus, what with the ozone hole, that it's a good idea to have your skin checked regularly. Better safe than sorry huh?

      xx

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  6. So lucky that you were at the docs that day and saw the article! Glad you got it sorted out quickly and a great reminder for all of us to be vigilant (especially pasty scottish types like me!). Like you i am also pretty good at keeping an eye on moles so its good to realise that skin cancer can come in other forms too.

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    1. I have Scottish (and Welsh) skin too! It was lucky, I'm sure at some point I would have thought about having it looked at, but I'm glad I realised sooner rather than later (even though sooner was actually 5 or so years after it first appeared, hehe).

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  7. I am the sun tan lotion police! Many people here in the UK are so relaxed over sun screen as we have such little sun when it is out people bask in it - and burn. Really bugs me, it isn't attractive and really isn't clever. I am also a redhead with very fair skin and a gazillion moles. I have to go to the hospital every 3 months for them checking as the docs have said if someone walked in with 1 mole that looked like any of mine they would have it whipped off in a heart beat. So far I have been lucky, one mole turned out to be dysplastic so was caught early enough but it still scares me! Thanks for sharing, if this means one person checks their skin properly then you have done your good deed for the year! :)

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    1. Wow, every three months!! Gosh, it must be time consuming, but good to know that everything is all okay. I've had 2 moles removed in the past that turned out to be nothing, so this is my first encounter with skin cancer. I really never thought to pay much attention to other skin lesions, so I hope this does encourage others to get their skin checked.

      I'm so glad they caught your dysplastic mole early, that must have been such a relief!

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  8. Hoping they've got it all x and thank you for the reminder xx

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  9. So glad to hear you caught it in time, Jen. I had a biopsy last year too, nerve wracking at the time, but so much better to be safe than sorry xx

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    1. It is nerve wracking isn't it? But it totally is better to be safe than sorry. I hope yours turned out to be benign?

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  10. I think it must of been scary just hearing the word cancer but I'm glad that it wasn't too serious. Thank you for letting us know about something so rare, its important to be as informed about our body's and health as possible.

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    1. Thanks Ybat :) I don't think BCC's are rare, but you certainly don't tend to hear about them coming in the shape/colour mine came in as often as you do moles/freckles. But, I definitely think more people should know that they can come randomly, anywhere, and not necessarily in the form of a mole/freckle.

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  11. Hi great to see you drawing attention to this. So good to see you are taking care of yourself and wishing you a good outcome. I am in Australia - over the 'ditch' - I now see a skin specialist once a year to check my body everywhere - even where the sun has never shone :) And yes, have had some taken off the face and one on the top of the knee (told it was like a spider spreading under the skin so the cut was deeper but all good now). Make some lovely sun protectors/tops, hats for your new bub too as skin cancer starts so early! X Sam

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    1. Hi Sam! I've been covering him in hats when he's outside, and because we're down south, it's still cool enough to be able to cover him up with clothing when he's outside and not get too hot. NZ and Australian sun is so harsh, and the fact that there's a hole in the ozone over us doesn't help!

      I hope the ones you had removed turned out to be okay,

      xx

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  12. Thankyou for the reminder. I have been telling myself since my Dad passed away from Merkel Cell Carcinoma that i need to get my skin checked. In a month, it will be the 10th anniversary of his death and I still haven't done it.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear this Noelle. I know it can be a scary thing to do because sometimes it can feel like it's just better not to know. I guess the danger with that though is that our heads start building it up to something so bad that we just don't want to think about, and so we ignore it even more.

      I definitely want to encourage you to go and have your skin checked. If they find something, then you can at least you can put an action plan in place to deal with it then. I guess sometimes it's the thought of what 'could' happen rather than what actually might happen (which could more than likely be nothing) is what holds us back.

      But I'm here if you need me! You can email me jenniferlauren.is@gmail.com

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  13. I should know this. My partner had a BCC removed years ago and regularly has lesions burnt off his face.

    And that is why I feel stupid for thinking 'oh shit' when I read the part about a pimple that won't go away.

    Mine is on my nose and has been there for at least 5 or 6 years. I'll be booking an appointment on Monday. Thank you.

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    1. George, I'm so glad this has reminded you to go have a check up!! It could be something like a contact dermatitis or skin allergy, but totally better to find out now rather than later. If it is a BCC, you've had yours for roughly as long as I had mine and it was still only very surface level, so fingers crossed!

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  14. Glad everything is OK now! Thank you for sharing your story, I hope people will be more aware of their skin.

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  15. Oh ouch! I hope it wasn't too painful.

    It is so weird that this happened to both of us around the same time.

    Thanks to a wayward youth spent laying in the sun covered in oil (I'm an old lady), I've been having 2-yearly skin checks for a really, really long time. I have a good dozen scars from various punch biopsies - but they were all tests for suspected melanomas.

    BCC wasn't even on my radar, I'm very glad the dermatologist picked it up! It was so small and I'd just marked it down as an annoying pimple and would never have thought of asking about it.

    Good luck with the healing! Yours is in a very tricky spot. Fortunately mine is on my upper arm, so I'm not *too* fussed about the look of it, but I'm using silicon tape and have booked in to have the scar trimmed (eww) in January because it has little pointy ears at each end.

    I've become a skin-check evangelist too! And though I always use a moisturiser with SPF 30 on my face, I need to be much better about sun-screen on my body when I'm out and about.

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    1. Hi Carol, it seems to be a thing that they pop up from pimples that never go away! I wonder why that is...

      I'm so happy for you that they caught it though - I wouldn't have thought about asking about mine either.

      Hopefully my hair will grow a bit more around that area so that the scar will be covered as much as possible. But I've been told that it should heal up very nicely with only a small scar to remind me it was even there.

      xx

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  16. I'm heading off to the doc this morning about a pimple that keeps erupting directly under a mole; the mole has been checked visually by Mole Check, and is fine but I want it removed anyway. It's been there for some years as well, annoying thing.

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  17. Such an important message, thank you for sharing and glad everything is okay!

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Thank you so much for stopping by to leave me a comment, like most people, I really do appreciate them all!

Due to the large amount of spam I seem to be receiving for some strange reason, comments may take longer to be published than usual. Apologies!

XX
Jen

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