My hubby and I went for our skin cancer screenings on Thursday. The trip is a little over an hour each way, but since it’s close to where my parents live, they were able to meet us for a little shopping and lunch afterward, which definitely made the trip more pleasant.
I don’t like getting the skin screenings done — standing there in your underwear while the doctor goes over your entire body looking for abnormalities is not fun — but it’s one of those necessities.
He found something “suspicious” so of course, I had to have it removed. Once he numbed the area, I didn’t feel a thing, except for the pressure where he was working. He’s really good, but unfortunately, the area he had to work in was right on one of my tender points. About halfway through lunch I started developing a headache that didn’t go away until after I went to sleep last night, which I’m sure is due to the pressure (even though it wasn’t much) on that tender point.
Yesterday morning I woke up in the midst of a flare. Between the work on my back and the stress of the ride (I don’t do well in the car) my body had just had all it was going to take. I guess I don’t have to tell you I didn’t get a single thing done yesterday.
I started thinking, though, that even though these preventive screenings can be uncomfortable, and can even cause flares sometimes, they’re extremely important. They really do save lives.
I know a lot of us probably figure we go to the doctor enough already and don’t want to add more appointments to our already-full schedule, but routine screenings may be even more important for those of us in the chronic illness community than they are for others.
We get so used to living in pain each day, experiencing weird new symptoms all the time, and dealing with severe fatigue that we may just chalk up anything new going on with our bodies to our illness.
When the doctor was checking the suspicious area on my back he asked if I itched in that area; that specific area. Now I’m always reaching back there to scratch because it does itch a lot, but itching is another one of those weird things that happens with fibromyalgia, so I never gave it a second thought.
He said to me, though, “this is very important — does it itch right in this area?” Evidently, itching is a sign that it could be something other than just keratosis, and I would never in a million years have even thought to mention it to my regular doctor.
The good news is that because I went for my screening, if the biopsy reveals that it’s something to be concerned about, he caught it early and I can get it taken care of before it becomes a big problem.
Early detection, of course, is the goal of all preventive screening. The earlier the doctors can catch something, the more treatment options we have and often, the less invasive those treatment options have to be.
Preventive screening recommendations vary by age, so it’s important to talk with our primary care physicians to determine which screenings we need. Johns Hopkins has a convenient checklist of screenings, by age, that you might want to talk with your doctor about.
They may be a nuisance, or even uncomfortable, but preventive screenings can help us catch things early and keep us from overlooking something important because we think it’s “just another weird symptom” of our illness.
Do you think regular preventive screenings are important? Have you scheduled yours? Please share!