- June 14, 2021 at 10:38 am
I’m sorry to be posting here since I haven’t actually been diagnosed, but I’m losing my mind with anxiety. I’m 50 year old American living in the UK. I’ve had a mole on my left upper calf since birth or very early childhood. It’s just below my knee and hard to see, and for years it didn’t bother me, so I never really worried about it or looked closely at it. A few years ago (I can’t say for sure how many, maybe three or four??), the area around the mole started itching periodically. I would scratch it, wonder vaguely if I should get it checked, and then do nothing. In early June, after months of it not itching, it itched a little and I finally took a pic of it on a whim and sent it to my GP. She didn’t like the way it looked and referred me to a dermatologist.
I saw the dermatologist this past Friday and, after looking at it through a dermascope, wanted to have it removed right away. She said it was good that I’d always had the mole (as opposed to it being a new one) and she’d recommend taking it off no matter what because it was itching, however, she also looked pretty concerned. She said something like, “It could be an atypical mole that’s inflamed, which would explain what I’m seeing,” but she looked at it a second time under the dermascope and looked even more concerned. I could see some of what she was typing on her computer report and the phrase “with presence of blue-grey veil” stood out to me. She felt all my lymph nodes and said everything felt okay. I asked how worried I should be, and she gave me a “let’s wait and see” answer and told me not to make myself miserable while we wait for the biopsy results. I know a lot of people say this, but she really looked like someone who knew they were looking at cancer and wanted me to have a few more weeks of normal life before all the treatments begin.
Of course, I went home and made the mistake of researching “blue-grey veil” and what I saw almost made me pass out. Apparently, not only is that a huge indicator of melanoma but also of invasive melanoma. To make matters worse, the dermatology office initially scheduled me for excision on July 7, but then they called me back saying that the dermatologist insisted they move it up to June 29, which emphasized the fact that she seemed worried to me.
So while everyone in my family is telling me that it might be benign, I know what the dermatologist’s face looked like and I know what I’ve read of blue-grey veils, and I’m terrified.
I know that even if I have melanoma, it may be early and I’ll have a decent chance. I also know that there have been a lot of medical advances the last few years that are promising for invasive cases. But, as everyone here knows, melanoma is a nasty disease and I’m reeling with the very real chance that I have it.
It’s the not knowing that’s making me crazy. I can’t wrap my head around what I don’t know for sure. So I have everything from I’ll be fine to I’m going to shortly make my spouse (who I just married 2.5 years ago) a widow going through my head on a relentless, cruel loop.
I know that no one can tell me anything, and I just need to stop researching and wait things out, but I can’t concentrate on anything, I can barely eat, and I feel disconnected from everything around me. I could rally myself to fight if I knew exactly what I was fighting, but I can’t even do that. I feel great, I exercise regularly, and I can’t believe that something so serious could be wrong.
Sorry. I just needed to vent. I’m someone who copes best with lots of information and I only have enough info to terrify me.
My very best to everyone here.
Ireland1ParticipantAmy – so many of us can empathise with what you’re going through. First of all – keep reminding yourself this may not be melanoma – and even if it is – you, like many people may just require the lesion to be removed and nothing further. This board is unfortunately skewed by those of us who have not been so lucky. Many people with melanoma have surgical management – surveillance – eventually discharged and it never bothers them again. I too get comfort from information / detail and researching so the place you’re at where you know nothing is so hard.
- June 14, 2021 at 4:33 pm
I think you need to just keep bringing yourself back to the fact that even if it’s worst case scenario and melanoma – so many patients are never on this board because they have it removed and get on with their lives – I wouldn’t allow yourself to go beyond that at this point – you just need to know what you’re dealing with and take it from there. Hopefully it will be nothing at all . Headspace is a great app for mindfulness and might help you calm your mind down a bit.
Thanks so much for your kind reply, Ireland1. I’m trying so hard to be calm and hope for the best. I’m just so afraid I’ve really messed up by leaving the mole unchecked for years, thinking it had always been there, so things were fine. I have no idea when–or even if–its appearance changed. It turns out that glancing down at your calf from an awkward angle a couple times a year doesn’t give you an accurate idea of what’s going on. Sigh. I just took a picture on a whim, not because I noticed anything different. So I hope it’s early, but if the itching has anything to do with it turning cancerous, that’s been happening on and off for years.
- June 14, 2021 at 5:34 pm
I’m driving myself mad thinking I’ve left it too long. I just have to wait and see, and place some faith in the fact that I seem to be in good health and hope that means things haven’t gone too far.
Thank you again for your reply. I really appreciate it. Hearing a voice of reason and compassion really helps in this situation. All my best to you.
- June 14, 2021 at 9:08 pm
Am sorry for your news and what you are going through. I think all of us here have thought why didnt we catch this earlier or do something earlier. In my case, twice, because I had a recurrence. I felt so bad and stupid.
I agree with all that Ireland wrote though. Wait for the biopsy first. If they do remove then make sure they remove it properly (i think there is something about punch biopsy versus shave but i never understood this). If it is deeper then I think they have to do sentinel node biopsy and maybe other checks too to make sure it is contained. There are many good websites both in the US (Celeste just posted a link to curemelanoma.org which looks good) and UK explaining staging and the different procedures associated with each stage.
Hopefully none of this will apply to you. But if it does, then you are right there are many many more treatments and patients are doing well. And this board and celeste’s blog are great resources.
I am glad the NHS (I guess?) are being proactive and I hope for the best
good luck Mark
Thanks so much, Mark. I’m a bit calmer today. I keep telling myself I’ve done what I can, and I need to let that be enough until I know more.
- June 15, 2021 at 5:56 am
And, yes, I’m getting care from the NHS, and they’ve been great so far.
Best of luck to you and thanks again.
- June 15, 2021 at 6:54 pm
Sorry for the anxiety this is creating. Absence of knowing for sure creates that with many. Your doc is being prudent and following the next logical step when a growth is considered suspicious. The blue-grey veil is also a feature of a Spitz-Nevis which is benign. I don’t believe that she wants to do it a few days earlier is significant in any way relative or indicative of any dire time sensitive emergency.
i know it’s easier for anyone not currently in your situation to tell you to relax. But the likelihood it is melanoma is small and if needed there is much in the arsenal to battle it than just a few years ago. Try to take it a step at a time and try to keep us posted.
Hello, again. I just wanted to update my thread as a courtesy to anyone reading this in the future.
- July 6, 2021 at 9:24 am
I had my mole fully excised at an NHS hospital one week ago today. At the time, I was told my results could take between 2 and 6 weeks (OMG), but the dermatologist indicated she was trying to put a rush on my results (yay, but also scary that she thought it was so urgent).
Well, today, exactly one week later, I got a phone call at precisely 8 a.m. from my dermatologist telling me she had my results. (One week is lightspeed for the NHS right now.) Since it had only been a week and she was calling me at the earliest socially acceptable time of the morning, my heart leapt in my throat as I expected the worst. However, she said she had good news, and it was NOT melanoma. (I felt like an elephant moved its giant butt off my chest for the first time in weeks at that moment.)
She said it was a dysplastic nevus and they “got it all,” so no further surgery is required. She was getting ready to write my full report and mail it to me, but she knew I’d been very worried during my surgery, so she gave me a call to put my mind at ease as soon as possible. My head was spinning and she woke me up, so I didn’t ask any questions. I just profusely thanked her and said I’d look for the report in the mail.
I understand that there are degrees of dysplasia that can take place, from mild to severe. I’m not sure what mine was yet. I assume the report will tell me. However, her comments gave me the impression that if the margins hadn’t been clear that she would have wanted to do a wider excision. Is that correct? Is a dysplastic mole considered benign or simply non-cancerous (pre-cancerous?)? Am I at any increased risk in the future because of this?
I’m so relieved by the news, but I’m also glad that I finally had that mole looked at and it’s been removed, just in case. My doctor was keen to perform a complete excision as opposed to a punch or shave biopsy and, given the result, I’m happy she did.
My advice to others waiting for a biopsy is to stay off of Google and don’t try to diagnose yourself. I was convinced I had melanoma because my dermatologist noted a possible blue-grey veil when looking at my mole under a dermascope. While that feature does apparently increase the risk of it being melanoma–thus giving the dermatologist very good reason to excise it–it clearly isn’t as definitive as I feared after consulting Dr. Google.
Keep calm and wait for your results. (So much easier said than done, I know.)
Thank you to everyone who commented on my original post and offered support. I wish everyone here the very best.
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