For someone my age, I’ve been surprisingly careful about my skin. Largely it was because I found lying around trying to tan the most boring thing in the world, so I seldom did it. I never really wanted to go for that bronze look. I can count the sunburns I’ve had on one hand — and still have leftover fingers to flash the peace sign. (Those sunburns were not my fault. Who knew that the Caribbean sun could burn right through a T-shirt while you are snorkeling?)
So as more and more evidence came out about the dangers of sun exposure, I was right on board. I now have the largest array of high SPF sunscreen in the Western U.S. I regularly slather on 80 SPF, then wear a hat and long sleeved shirts out in the Sonoma sun. And I’ve always kept a close eye on my moles. ‘Cause I had a few of them.
Then suddenly last week, as I stepped out of the shower, I noticed that I had more than a few. I had more. Lots more. They had multiplied overnight it seemed. Cue panicked call to a dermatologist.
Wanting to get the very next available appointment, I told the receptionist I had a number of “suspicious” moles. She booked me immediately.
Full disclosure: I’ve never been able to tell from Internet articles on cancer what makes a mole suspicious. I sort of had the impression that it was a mole that was ugly or misshapen. Or would be happy living on a witch’s face.
I think you are getting the idea that I am not going to be posting pictures of my moles. This is not that kind of blog. I just say “NO” to oversharing.
But still I worried.
Turns out the dermatologist was a sweet elderly German man. Sort of a thinner medical version of the kindly waiter Carl in Casablanca. Dr. Carl, like the German stereotype, is very efficient. He did a quick examination of my torso with a magnifying glass and pronounced: “All iss gut. No cancer.”
Well, then why do I have five new moles?
“Zees are not moles. Zey are ‘Age Warts’. Vee alzo call zem ‘Senile Warts’.”
Warts?! Warts! I’ve never had a wart in my life. Warts are found on witches and frogs and warthogs. And what’s this “Senile” thing, anyway?
Turns out, according to Dr. Carl Casablanca, just about everyone of “a certain age” gets these things. They aren’t really warts as in virus-induced type things. They are just age-related changes to the skin. And they don’t become cancerous.
I still had Dr. Carl removed them. Because I’m too young for age-related anything!
And there is nothing that has warts that can be called attractive. Even when Disney tries to pretty it up.
Just a public service announcement: Don’t dismiss any new skin growth, even if you think it is a harmless result of aging skin. Get everything checked out. Even Dr. Carl Casablanca is going to biopsy every one of my removed moles, just to be sure.