Whats that dark spot on your arm? my cousin Carolyn said. Oh, its probably a bruise, I answered. I get them all the time. Its no big deal. But it wasnt bruise, and Carolyn knew it. As a nurse, she recognized that dark spot as a possible melanoma.
I want you to make an appointment with your dermatologist right away, she said. I mean it. Without wanting to alarm me with her observation, she didnt say the words melanoma or deadly cancer. So mostly to appease her, I went to see the dermatologist. She removed that dark spot, but the next day, she called to order me to come in to have more tissue removed, immediately. I should have guessed by the expedience of the procedure, that this was no ordinary removal of a mole. It was melanoma. Because of Carolyns keen observation and insistence that I see the doctor, Im alive today. At the time, I had no idea that melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers, because it spreads rapidly. I was very lucky.
Now, knowing that exposure to sun can cause skin cancer, Im very careful to not get a tan. Years of lying out in the sun, turning myself like meat on a grill, proved to be a life-threatening activity. I plea ignorance, because back then, we were encouraged to use baby oil, not sun screen. As kids, we never gave wrinkles a second thought, much less skin cancer. I was given a reprieve, and to show my gratitude, I now pay attention to protecting my skin.
The amazing part of the story of Carolyns discovery of my melanoma was that it was just by chance that she was here to see it. Although she lived only 100 miles away, we rarely visited each other, but for some reason, she decided to come for the weekend. This was about 8 years ago. We were getting dressed for going out to a swanky place for dinner, and we were running back and forth between bathroom and bedrooms in our underwear. Thats when she stopped me in the hallway and touched my arm. If I could have seen her face, I would have seen the concern. Now I look back at that weekend visit with wonder at the Grace of God. I believe that He had sent Carolyn to me, for the specific purpose of noticing that spot. Not only that, He spoke to her in the car as she drove home. Make sure you tell Mary that its important to go to the dermatologist. She identified that voice as that of our Uncle Herman, who was her hero, when we were little girls, but I know it was the voice of God.