Hi Everyone!

Thank you so much for all of your support regarding my last post about my recent health issues! I get my lab results back next Friday, so I will let you guys know what is going on in the health department at that time. Your comments and stories of similar health issues have been so inspiring and I am trying my best to keep my head up and keep moving forward.

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA for the past couple of days. I have not been feeling well at all. Still pouring over here in Catherine’s world! Ugh. I just got home from the dermatologist and I have a foot update:

Good News: Stitches are out!
Not Good News: My skin biopsy came back showing abnormal cells. It wasn’t melanoma, but it wasn’t normal or “ok” either. This means that if I left the mole and didn’t have it removed, it had a potential to turn into melanoma. Luckily my doctor removed the surrounding borders of the mole so I don’t have to have another surgery. All of the bad parts are gone! I am so thankful!
Bad News: Since my biopsy came back abnormal, my dermatologist wanted to check the soles/pads of my hands and feet for other suspicious moles. He saw another dark oddly shaped mole on the opposite foot and insisted that he remove it and have it biopsied. My eyes started to tear up. Was this really happening? I kept it together and thought about the reality, I would rather suck it up and deal with the pain, crutches, or even a wheelchair than leaving a possibly cancerous mole.

Skin cancer is something that runs in my family, so it’s important to check my skin (you should too!) for new and changing moles frequently. Three years ago I felt a bump on my scalp while combing my hair. At first I thought it was an ingrown hair, but a month later it was still there. I made an appointment with my dermatologist to check it out. While observing the bump on my scalp, he also noticed a strangely shaped flat light brown mole about an inch down. He decided to biopsy both moles since one had irregular borders and one was raised. When my biopsy came back, I was informed that the flat mole was pre-melanoma. I went in for another appointment to remove the mole and surrounding borders completely which left me with a little bald spot on the crown of my head. Missing a little patch of hair didn’t even matter, I was so happy to have that spot removed! Better safe than sorry! Ever since then, I have been more cautious of new and abnormal looking moles.

This summer I noticed that a once tiny small dot of the pad of my left foot had turned into a triangular shaped blurry spot about the size of a pencil eraser. I already had an appointment with my dermatologist since I was experiencing breakouts, and decided to show him my foot. The instant he saw it, he said “this needs to come out, this has three different colors and a fuzzy border.” He also explained that moles should not be found on the soles/pads of feet or hands, which is a big red flag. There is a very serious kind of skin cancer called Acral Lentiginous Melanoma that is found in these spots. I am so glad that my doctor decided to schedule a surgery and remove the mole because it definitely needed to go.

I don’t want to fill my food blog with disturbing photos of skin cancer, but I think it’s an important subject to address. A couple of my family members have had melanoma and basal cell carcinoma which have luckily been removed in time, but we have also lost friends from skin cancer. Of all the cancers that humans can get, skin cancer is the most common, but when caught early, skin cancer has a 98% cure rate.

ABCs of Skin Cancer
Asymmetric:  If you draw a line through this mole, the two halves will not match.
Border:  The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
Color:  Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, blue or some other color.
Diameter:  Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
Evolving:  Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger.

“1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer. Don’t be the 1.” –The American Academy of Dermatology

My Motto: When in doubt, cut it out!
Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter how dark or tan you are. If you see anything suspicious, make an appointment with your dermatologist and get that sucker removed!

After I got home from the dermatologist I was super excited to see this book waiting for me! My grandma dropped it off while I was at my appointment, thanks Grammy! So excited to have something to look at since I’ll be back on the couch haha

I was even more excited to receive this gorgeous little box in the mail. One of my best friends from college asked if I would be her bridesmaid! FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW!!!! I am soooo excited and honored. She is going to be the most gorgeous bride and I cannot wait for her big day!

Although I had a little setback today with my  foot feet, things are looking up. I have the most amazing friends and family in the world! I can’t wait to get back on my feet and start posting some recipes again!

25 Comments on Stitches Out & Skin Cancer Awareness

  1. romy
    August 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm (12 years ago)

    Hello Catherine! I was wondering if you have read the book The China Study? I believe you would enjoy it very much. Im reading it right now and I Am amazed with the quality of the information. Hope you get well soon!! Romy

    • Catherine
      August 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm (12 years ago)

      Hi Romy! I have not read the book, but I watched a documentary “Forks Over Knives” which is based on The China Study! You should definitely watch it if you get a chance, you would probably enjoy it! I would love to read the book one day 🙂

  2. Alexis
    August 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm (12 years ago)

    Hi Catherine,

    I’m glad to see you have such a proactive Dermatologist. I’m an Esthetician and since I work with skin I see all sorts of things people should get checked out. I love that you posted the ABC’s too! I share those and other tips with all of my clients. Has your dermatologist suggested a zinc oxide/ titanium dioxide based SPF? I really recommend those as they provide a more stable barrier between the sun and skin.
    Feel better soon! =)

  3. Emily
    August 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm (12 years ago)

    I’m sure that was extremely disappointing and frustrating to find out you had to have surgery on the other foot just as your first one is starting to heal! But the most important thing is to be healthy! Keep your head up and I hope things look up for you soon!

    You have tons of support from all of your reader! 🙂

  4. Sarah Brown
    August 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm (12 years ago)

    It IS better to be safe—after noticing a strange mole this summer my husband had it checked out–it was melanoma. Just yesterday it was removed (along with a large section of his pec.) and lymph nodes were removed to be sent off to be checked. Prayer is that it hasn’t spread! Check yourself AND your loved ones and know your ABC’s!!!

  5. Tyrene Hickman
    August 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm (12 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing your experience and getting the word out about Skin Cancer, even if this is a food blog as you said, even more admirable that you did so and took the time. I saw where you are reading Forks Over Knives, great book and documentary! So is The China Study as someone else mentioned. Cancer is so scary, the more we know how to eat and prevent it and don’t do and do certain things….the more knowledge the better! I will have to check out the book your Grammy got you, isn’t that sweet! You will make a beautiful bridesmaid at your friends wedding…just think of those memories that will be made! Hoping and praying for you that everything is caught and turns out good for you.

  6. Diana
    August 31, 2012 at 6:38 am (12 years ago)

    This must be a very hard time for you and your family, but it’s important you do all you need to do in order to get healthy again! Thanks for sharing the ABCs of skin cancer, it’s important we’re all aware of this disease. Stay positive and strong. You have a loving family and friends that will always make you smile 🙂 Wishing you all the best!

  7. Robin
    August 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm (12 years ago)

    Hey, that is one great looking pedi! Sorry about cancer being such a prospect in your family and your recent fall. I hope the blog is a bright spot and knowing that we all care what is happening to you. Best wishes to you.

  8. Valeria A
    September 1, 2012 at 8:55 am (12 years ago)

    I do hope you feel better soon, see it as just one not so cool stage, and you’ll be back on you feet in no time- literally…
    Best wishes for you, and I’ll be thrilled when you post recipes again!!
    Get well soon!

  9. Tamara Sauer
    September 1, 2012 at 10:05 am (12 years ago)

    Oh my!! What a terrible situation but so great of you to be so proactive about going to see the dermatologist. Did you hear about the new FDA regulations effective this past June for ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreens? Rodan + Fields (the dermatologists who created Proactiv) has a great broad spectrum sunscreen. Thank yoy for the info in your blog and encouraging sun protection!! Hang in there!!

  10. Rebecca Kelsey
    September 1, 2012 at 10:39 am (12 years ago)

    It’s good that you had the foresight to share with your derm your mole, so happy to hear that everything is being taken care of. Don’t worry, no matter the results we’ll be here to help. Best wishes to you!

    Kindness is the best accessory,

  11. Kira
    September 2, 2012 at 6:24 am (12 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been making semi-annual trips to the dermatologist for five years now (sine I was 23) and know how difficult it can be. One thing to note is that my melanoma seemed to “sprout” during pregnancy — the growth hormones seem to feed any abnormalities so it’s another good time to be super-aware even though one would rather be focused on happier things.

    One thing I see no one has mentioned is the importance of getting your vitamin D levels checked. My dermatologist downplayed the importance when I asked her, but luckily my daughter had a great pediatrician at the time and he had me get my levels checked. They came back low and he put me on Vitamin D3, which is more easily assimilated than D2 although I don’t believe it’s vegan. I haven’t researched it, but I don’t believe any harm is done to the animals though.

    Anyway, since I’ve done the D3 I haven’t had any more melanomas even though I go in so regularly. I may have had one or two abnormal ones removed at my next 6 month visit, but I haven’t had any removed at all for about the past 2 years (although I did just find out that my vitamin D levels are low again so I’m back to high dose supplementing). Dr. Mercola has a great article on vitamin D and why most people have low levels (even in Hawaii) despite sun exposure.

    I also agree with Alexis about the importance of using a zinc oxide/ titanium dioxide based SPF. The ingredients in a lot of products scare me so I’ve found recipes online to make my own (looks super easy), but haven’t done it yet.

  12. Rach
    September 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm (12 years ago)

    I’m so sorry you’re suffering right now but thank you so much for sharing your story. Because you’re awesome, your blog has become super widely read which means you’re in a powerful position to spread awareness so I bet you these posts (and this time of suffering) will lead to someone else catching a cancerous mole before it spreads.

  13. Elle | nutritionella
    September 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm (12 years ago)

    You’ve inspired me to make an appointment with my derm – thanks for being such a prevention advocate. PS. Your poor feet may be taking a beating but your red toes are totally cute. 🙂

  14. Jordan @ Whimsical Desperation
    September 6, 2012 at 8:31 am (12 years ago)

    I’m sorry you have pre-cancerous moles, but I’m very, very glad that they haven’t had a chance to develop into melanomas. Preventive health care is incredibly important and that can extend to every body part, including your skin. So many people thing dermatologists are just about botox and making people look pretty (and there are some who play into that), but they play really important roles.

  15. Amy
    September 6, 2012 at 11:55 am (12 years ago)

    I hope you get well soon. The rising number of those who suffer from this terrible disease is alarming. The least we can do is to support the organizations whose members are working hard every day to relieve the sufferings of cancer patients and raise awareness all around the country. I am saying this because this weekend is a perfect opportunity for all Torontonians to participate in the event called the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers taking place in our city. Let’s show our support to those who really need it.

  16. Nikki
    September 10, 2012 at 4:54 am (12 years ago)

    I hope you’re doing ok. Your site is so inspiring to me, and while i havent quite got the knack of the plan yet, it makes perfect sense and i find myself thinking in the bunny food pyramid when i’m building a meal. I know health issues can make it hard to keep going but i just wanted to be one of the many voices on here telling you that you’re doing an amazing thing and at such a young age. Sending good thoughts your way. Thank you for everything you do.

  17. katy
    September 10, 2012 at 6:12 am (12 years ago)

    I hope you are feeling better soon. Just think positive bunny 🙂 Love your blogs xxx

  18. Stephanie
    September 18, 2012 at 8:51 am (12 years ago)

    Girl, I’m with ya. Skin cancer runs in my family, too. I’ve had four different spots cut out and all four have come back precancerous. Not fun. You’re right though, knowledge and early detection is key.

    And good news… my dad is in his mid-50s and said he’s had countless precancerous spots taken out and has yet to actually HAVE cancer. Apparently it just means we’re at a higher risk, not doomed.

    Praying they get all the spots out and that healing isn’t too, too painful.

  19. Marie
    October 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm (12 years ago)

    Thank you so much for writing this post! I’m a recent new reader of your blog and I saw this shortly after you wrote it.

    I’ve had a mole on my foot for the past few years and while I’ve kept my eye on it I’ve never gotten it looked at it. Today I went to my doctor and they suggested to have it examined further.

    This is especially important since I am African-American with a lot of diversity in my family background. Skin cancer in African-Americans is rare. However, it’s usually found on the foot when it is spotted. Your post encouraged me to get it checked out.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  20. sara
    October 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm (12 years ago)

    hi, i just wanted to say that i have worked for a dermatologist for the past 6 years, hmm where do i start i guess i have a question what kinda biopsy was it? all of the Dr’s in our office do what we call a shave biopsy which doesn’t need stitches, its a superficial biopsy which leaves very little scaring, it sounds to me that you had a “punch” biopsy which requires at least 1 stitch in any case it sounds to me that your mole came back as a dysplastic nevus which means more or less that is an abnormal or atypical mole. mild ,moderate and severe. mild Dysplastic nevus are usually not removed. in any case if you are dealing with skin cancer make sure your Dr is a Moh’s fellowship trained surgeon, and not a dr that took the “weekend class” as the Dr i work for like’s to say on how to treat skin cancer. just because your Dr is a dermatologist that doesn’t mean he’s the best with dealing with skin cancer.

  21. sara
    October 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm (12 years ago)

    P.S i live in Florida We See Skin Cancer All Day Every Day.

  22. Kate
    November 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm (12 years ago)

    I’ve had the same thing happen to me. I hated having the mole removed, and then you play the waiting game with the results!


Leave a Reply