Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Holy moley, we got moles.
Not the kind that ruin your lawn, the kind you find on your face. And arms. And legs. And ears… wait, maybe that’s just me. Actually, I don’t have moles on my ears--yet. But I’m ready.
My husband, Widdle Baby, is a brown-eyed handsome man with no moles—a few freckles, but no moles. I’m fair with gray eyes and more moles than Carter’s has little pills. (Y’all under 40, look it up.)
My dad, who was so swarthy a friend used to call him “Creosote,” had a couple on his back and scalp and that’s it. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says most people have at least 10 moles, and up to 40 isn’t uncommon. Most develop during your first 20 years, but “new mole creation” typically occurs until about age 40. (Tell that to the new one I found on my neck last week.)
If a mole changes shape or color, or the edges get raggedy—basically, if your good old familiar mole starts to look funky, get it checked. My dad—yes, he of the few moles--died of melanoma, and my dermatologists don’t mess around. Several moles have been removed from my shoulders and back because a derm thought they looked suspicious. That’s reason enough for me.
I have a cute little mole about an inch below my navel; it’s a good guide for underwear and bathing suit bottoms. And recently I had two moles removed from my face.
I liked them because my mother described them as “beauty marks.” Both were round, black and slightly raised. One was on my lower right chin; its cousin was two inches above, just north of my upper lip. I called that one my Cindy Crawford mole, and it’s the first and last thing Cindy Crawford and I have in common.
Secretly, I thought they made me look a bit exotic. When you grew up on a dirt road in unincorporated Southwest, N.C., you take exotic any way you can get it.
Over time, however, my moles did what moles like to do: They grew. Didn’t bother me; I figured noses and ears keep growing, why not moles?
Well, six months ago the young PA at my dermatologist’s office set me straight. Now, I love this guy: He’s smart, straightforward and funny. I was seeing him for something else when he tilted my head back and said, “Have you thought about removing one of these moles?”
“Never,” I said honestly.
“You know, one can be very attractive,” he said. “Two… well, that starts looking scary.”
I almost fell off the table. “OK, which one?” I asked.
He didn’t hesitate: “If you were my mo—“ I shot him a deadly look—“I mean, sister, I’d remove the one on the chin,” he advised.
Two minutes later it was gone, and two weeks later you couldn’t tell it had ever existed.
Eventually, the mole on my upper lip grew even larger, and completely lost its pigment. I went to Widdle and said, “Tell me the truth. Does this look like a big fat wart?” He paused. “Well, ah… honey…”
“Never mind,” I said, and two weeks later that one was gone too.
Now I have no moles on my face. And it’s funny—it’s like I’ve lost landmarks. I’m still surprised when I look in the mirror and they’re gone. Oh, well. I’m sure a couple more will pop up to replace them.
Now, if we could just do something about the hairs on my chin…
Julie R. Smith, who also has freckled shoulders, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.