Springtime in Minnesota.  Once the temperature hits fifty degrees, hardy Minnesotans figure it’s time to drag out the tank tops and shorts.  My Mole Radar (Madar) awakens from its wintry slumber, rubs its eyes, and says “!@#$%^  Here we go again!”

Let me tell you what it’s like to take a walk with me around one of our many Minnesota lakes.

Me: Don’t you think?

You: Yes, I’d agree that swimming proficiency is critical for all kids who grow up in Minnesota.

Me: Oh crap.  Did you see that mole?

You: I thought moles were nocturnal.

Me: No, the mole on the neck of that kid.

You: Oh.  No.  Why?  Is it weird?

Me: I don’t know.  I didn’t get a good look at it.  Let’s turn around.

You: You want to follow them?

Me: I need a better look.

You: Don’t you think the kid has a doctor who knows about the mole?

Me: Not necessarily.

You: Or maybe the parents would know if there is a mole of concern?

Me: Have you scrutinized your kids’ skin with a dermatoscope recently?

You: What’s a dermatoscope?

Me: Come on – we’re getting closer.

You: I’m going to pretend like I don’t know you.

Me: Fine.  Here – take the dogs.  Ooh.  It’s pretty dark with an irregular border.  And kinda big.  I’m going to say something.

You: La la la la.  I don’t know you.  Chester, stop chewing on my ankle.  Rafa, quit peeing on Chester’s leg.

Me to Parent: Excuse me.  Hi.  Sorry to barge in.  I’m a family doctor and I noticed the spot on your child’s neck.

Parent: Oh.  Okay.  A spot.  Let’s see here.  Frankie let me see your neck. (spits on fingers and rubs Frankie’s neck) Looks like it was just dirt.

Me: Great!  Have a good day.

You: And for this they gave you an MD?  Aren’t you embarrassed?

Me: Not particularly.  Imagine if it was a melanoma.  I’d rather risk a mildly awkward social interaction than say nothing and miss a chance to catch a problem.

You: Have you ever found a melanoma?

Me: Yes.  Once upon a time, when I practiced medicine in a clinic, a young woman came to see me for a complete physical exam.

You: How old is “young”?

Me: I don’t know.  Thirty-one?  Anyhow.  She planned to leave the country for a few years due to work-related circumstances.   I always included a thorough skin exam with every physical and I noticed a funny looking mole on her left shoulder blade.  It didn’t have the classic look of a melanoma but since she was leaving the country and I couldn’t monitor it, I suggested removal.  She agreed.  I was shocked by the pathology report but relieved that the melanoma hadn’t spread.

You: What happened?

Me: She saw the dermatologist for a wider excision, made a plan, and left the country.

You: So now you jump on everyone with dirt on their neck?

Me: That’s the first time I’ve jumped on dirt.  The rest have been weird moles.

You: Do the people take your advice?

Me: I don’t know.  I can imagine what they might say to their doctor: “Yeah, this crazy lady with a massive pomeranian and an ill-behaved labrador retriever told me to get my moles checked.”

You: Can we get ice cream now?


Folks, please realize as you don your eensy teensy polka-dotted whatevers, that physicians in the five state area are going on High Alert.  Show us a little mercy.

1) If you have moles, please get them checked by your health care provider.  Even if the moles have “been there forever.”

2) Wear sunscreen.  Apply at least every hour when you’re outside.  At our house, we use Vanicream sunscreen on our bodies.  I put Andalou Naturals Oil Control on my face.

3) If a doctor stops you on the street and says “Have you had that mole checked?,” smile, thank her for noticing, and schedule an appointment.  She might’ve saved your life.

Musical Moment

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6 Responses to Whack-a-Mole

  1. mom says:

    This is one of the things I love about you…you do care about people, those you know and those you don’t know. Thank you for being you.

  2. Joanne Voves says:

    My hairdresser caught my malignant melanoma. Although the surgery was tough, I’m grateful to be here slathering on the sun screen!

  3. Ace supporter says:

    why are you using something on your face that we’ve never heard of or seen, while the rest of your family is smearing that toothpaste like substance on our faces? we demand equal treatment (unless it smells funny, or feels icky)! BIG e, ace

    • anne says:

      Dear Ace –
      You are welcome to use the shee shee face stuff. It’s on my chest of drawers. I’m sure you’re gonna love the faint fruity aroma.

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