mothers day giftMaureen Boyle shares her most unusual Mother’s Day gift. And she asked for this gift! What is the most unusual gift you requested or received for Mother’s Day?

See related poll: What is best about Mother’s Day?

For me the most unusual Mother’s Day gift I requested (and thankfully received) was for all of my children (5 teenagers) and my husband to go to the dermatologist and have a full body check. Aside from May being the month of MOM it is alsogroup skin cancer awareness month.  This request might seem really crazy to some and somewhat neurotic to others. I can understand that but I have a strong family history of skin cancer. In order for my mind to be put at ease I needed to know that all of my immediate family was, at this moment, free from any suspicious growths.

Earlier that year my aunt died from malignant melanoma and my mom has had several occurrences of melanoma and many surgeries over the years. One of my younger sisters was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma during her first pregnancy and another sister diagnosed with the same disease in her late 30’s. I have needed several MOHS surgeries to remove basal cell carcinomas, the most common form of skin cancer, and plastic surgery for the repair. I am very fair skinned and a red head, two strong risk factors for melanoma,  and my husband tans quite easily and becomes fairly dark skinned if out in the sun even for a short period of time. He always thought that he would not have a problem because of this. My aunt that died was also fairly dark skinned and tanned easily, much like my husband. So, NO, tanning easily or having fairly dark skin does NOT mean you cannot or will not get skin cancer. Not only did I want to know that my husband and children were free of suspicious growths, I also wanted to be sure that they knew that it was not just their overly protective wife/mother that thought that you were never too young to get skin cancer and how extremely important it is for each of them to take responsibility for their own health and take precautions when out in the sun.

I have to go for full body checks every six months because of my history. I try to go in the fall and spring and when I was there in April I asked my dermatologist if he thought that asking my entire family to get checked would be an overly cautious request (in other words, did he think I was crazy). Quite the contrary- he LOVED the idea and thought it was really important. He was so supportive of the idea that he told me that he would open the office on Mother’s Day not only for my family 6 more patients- not me since I had just had my examination) and any other family that wished to come in and he would spread the word to his other patients.

So that Mother’s Day after going to Mass and having a wonderful breakfast at our local diner, we piled into the Suburban and went to the dermatologist.  (It seems weird even to write this.) I had told all of them that this was absolutely the ONLY thing that I wanted that Mother’s Day and that they honestly did not have to get me anything else (okay, I would also have loved a homemade card but if I didn’t get one I would not be upset).

One by one they were called in for their check-ups. Some wanted me to go with them, others did not. The day before I spoke with each of them privately to see if they had any questions or if they had any moles or freckles they had questions about. We wrote down the questions and I held on to them so that they could bring them into the doctor with them. I told the nurse that they had a paper with questions for the doctor and I asked her if she would bring it up just in case the children might forget or were too shy to say something.

molesSome of my children have a moles, birth marks or freckles so the doctor mapped them and took photos of them so that in the future they could be sure to look closely at them. Both of my daughters ended up having suspicious growths and needed to have them removed. (They turned out to be totally fine.) This was a REAL wake-up call for all of them. Our biggest surprise though was for our youngest son. He had a freckle on the bottom of his foot. A VERY unusual place for a freckle. I could have sworn it was dirt. I laughed at first and suggested that maybe we try to clean the bottom of his foot to see if it would wash off. Nope, it was a freckle alright. They took a photo of it and he would needed to come back to have this followed.

Given our family history, our doctor suggested that my children come back every year for a full body check. He spoke with each of them about proper sun protection year round, talked about the different sunscreens and what to look for AND to wear it year round. He also gave each a chart with photos of what to look for and when to have something checked out. He gave me a few extras and I taped one to the inside of the bathroom mirror in each bathroom so that they would not only see it daily and be reminded to check but if they did have a new mole they would know what to look for.

I cannot begin to tell you what a truly happy this Mother’s Day gift was for me! I know I worry WAY too much but can you blame me? I’m a mother. That is my job. mothers day

Wait until I tell you what I did this year. You are REALLY going to think I have gone over the edge. (Or maybe not; maybe you are the same kind of Crazy Mom I am.)

Happy, Happy Mother’s Day to all of our MOMs out there!!

Enjoy your little miracles and PLEASE let me know what the MOST unusual Mother’s Day gift you requested or received?



How do I check my skin?

Video: Dear 16-year-old Me

Download the American Academy of Dermatology  body mole map to document your self-examination.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Pregnant with cancer

Mohs Surgery