When a person thinks of Melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer, some people assume that only people of fairer complexions get it or those who frequently went to tanning beds or stayed out in the sun too long. Although these are increased risk factors for developing skin cancer, it is possible for those who don’t fit into the standard risk factors to also develop skin cancer and unfortunately, I know of some people who have passed away from it.
I was so excited when I finally started to receive health insurance in March through the HealthCare.Gov site. I knew I wanted to go ahead and get my physical out of the way and to also check on a bump that I had noticed on my scalp that appeared to be growing. My primary care physician referred me to a dermatologist and it was here that I realized that the insurance I was so excited about was a rip off, but more on that later. The bump was removed and biopsied on April 14, 2016 and I was told that I should get the results within 10 days. If anybody has waited on biopsy results, you understand how nerve-wracking it can be.
Exactly a week later, I would find out that I have Trichoblastoma, a rare tumor of the hair follicle. I mean, who knew that your hair follicle could even get a tumor? I guess I was the lucky one! Thankfully, the tumor was benign (PRAISE THE LORD) but unfortunately, this type of tumor can be pretty deep and my dermatologist only removed the part that was on the surface of the skin. Because it can turn into what is known as Trichoblastic Carcinoma (which is cancerous), I need to have the rest removed by a surgeon.
Although I am thankful that I didn’t receive a skin cancer diagnosis, things have still been tough. I wasn’t able to exercise for two weeks and exercise helps me to relieve stress and this was a pretty stressful time for me as I was waiting on the results. I’m also training for a half marathon so to take 2 out of 10 weeks off, that’s a lot! The thought of having to clean an open wound on my head would make me nauseous but I had to do it anyway. Different insecurities started to pop up like the feeling of going through a health scare alone and without a partner to really be there through your ups and your downs. I also realized that I have some really great people in my life that reached out to check in and ask how I was doing when they found out.
Just as things were starting to swing upwards, I got a blow that I wasn’t expecting. Although most insurance plans would help cover the removal of a tumor that is known to possibly turn into cancer, mine doesn’t. I’ll be honest, I chose a cheap insurance plan, $175 a month (although it doesn’t feel cheap to me). It is upsetting because I don’t even understand why I’m paying so much per month and they can’t even contribute $5 towards my surgery. When I was calling different surgeons, some of them do take Blue Cross Blue Shield (my insurance company) and it would be considered in-network. But my particular one that I have is considered out-of-network and I have a $13,000 deductible for out-of-network. It pretty much only covers my primary care visit but anything else that would be considered a specialist visit, including my visit to the dermatologist, I had to pay for myself since it is not covered until I meet my $6,000 in-network deductible!
I’m dreading having to have this second part of the surgery done to remove the rest of the tumor but my insurance issue is an added inconvenience. I’m thankful that my surgery isn’t estimated to be too expensive and I’ll figure out a way to pay for it somehow. But what about people who have to have procedures that are going to run way more than mine? I’m frustrated that we live in a country that is supposedly a world power, yet we still have issues with health care such as mine.
Sometimes in life, the unexpected happens. I’m not sure how things are going to work but I know that God will provide. Today, I decided to open up about my story and the reality that things can change. I never thought this would be happening but I’m so thankful for the positives that have came out of the situation. When it comes to skin cancer, if you have skin, no matter what shade it might be, there’s a chance that you could be part of the many people who get it. Learn to appreciate and take care of what you’re given.
I thought about not sharing the picture below which can be a little graphic to some but I wanted to show the reality of dealing with what I’m going through. This is after the initial surgery to remove the Trichoblastoma.