Three little stitches

I had a mole removed on Monday. It all started a few weeks ago after showering one morning before heading out to a doctor’s appointment about something else entirely. As I dried my skin I happened to look down at the mole on my abdomen, the one that had been looking strange for while, when ‘SHOW THE DOCTOR’ boomed loud and clear in my head. It had never occured to me to do that — I’d noticed the changes but never actually cottoned on to what that might mean. Our bodies change — it’s just part of getting older, surely?

So I showed the doctor, he referred me to the dermatology department at Hammersmith Hospital and on Monday I found myself having local anaesthetic injected into my flesh before a patch of my skin was removed along with the franken-mole. I was given three stitches — my first ever — and sent home to wait for the results of the biopsy.

As with most things, I’m doing my best to take this in my stride. if the results are clear I just have to continue being vigilant with my skin and regularly check my moles. If the results are of the more scary variety I’ll need to a have a much larger patch of skin removed and we’ll take it from there. As of right now it could go either way.

I was planning to write a post about this when I had the results, but, of course, this is blocking any other posts I had planned. Sharing photos on Instagram and Facebook, and hearing about others who’ve been in this situation — some many times before — has been really helpful. I spent my childhood getting burned to a crisp so have always been careful to use sunblock ever since, especially in my twenties when 10 years with an Italian meant 10 years of visting his family under the scorching summer sun. Slapping on the SPF has been the bane of my life as I really can’t go into the sun without burning. Now i’m grateful I persevered with it.

I tend to view my body as merely the vehicle that gets me around — I’ve never really identified it as ME. This has resulted in life lived from the neck up, only paying attention to my body when it stops working efficiently (which is a lot of time when you don’t take care of it). The extra book-baby weight that made me feel like crap; the RSI that’s plagued me for years; the suspected gluten intolerance; the PMS; the overly sensitive skin that blisters at the slightest touch. It’s all an inconvenience that makes me like my body even less and convinces me I got short-changed in the DNA department.

And human bodies are just so biological. Viruses can attack them. They swell and bloat for seemingly no reason. They age and stop working properly. Moles go renegade and need to be cut off. This is all coming at a time when I’m already feeling a bit sensitive about about ageing. In the last few years my body has definitely started changing. It’s quite shocking to appear to be losing the resilience and invincibility you thought you had when you were younger. To realise the morning creases on your face are still there in the evening. And let’s not even speak of the sagging and drooping and general unfirmness of it all.

I experience the world through my senses — sometimes too much — but rather than this be about the body it’s simply information that’s fed back into my brain. So it’s time to join my head and body back together, to accept that while I’m here this IS me, sags creases and all. And i don’t know what this looks like yet, because it’s not as simple as join a gym and start drinking green juice. But I do know I can’t just think my way into this.

In extremely related news, I’ve been planning my next tattoo, the one that will mark the beginning of my 40s (37 days to go!). It’s not lost on me that I’m planning to indelibly change how my skin looks again while also tending to my first ever scar. I’m actually really psyched about having a scar — does that sound odd? I view it as a badge of honour somehow, a marker of my ability to look after myself, even when that brings permanent physical change. There are the scars we choose and the ones that are thrust upon us. Until now my scars have all been held inside me — for the longest time during my bereavement I wished I had scars on the outside to show how much my life had been changed by his death. It didn’t seem right that I looked the same when my insides had been rearranged forever. Now, in the smallest way, I bear proof of time passing that goes deeper than laughter lines and the odd grey hair. Somehow these three little stitches have woken me up to how disconnected I’ve been from mySelf. I want to stitch myself back together: head, body, heart and soul. I’ve no doubt there will be more stitches to come, if not now then at some point in the future, so best I start now, with the things I have some control over, while I wait for the biopsy results I have no control over at all.

49 responses
  1. Sherry Smyth

    As always Susannah, you convey your thoughts, feelings and life in such a way that others can say “I get that”, or “I know this feeling” or “I’ve been there”. You make dealing with the thought that is “impossible”, “possible”. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way for that biopsy! xo

  2. Alexis

    Wishing you prayers of hope that all will turn out okay. Lots of love and light in your direction.

  3. paul

    scars are sexy, so are tattoos. also: positive thoughts for your biopsy results.

  4. Linda

    Hey Susannah, thanks for sharing, life is hard sometimes and the worst of all are the negative thoughts in our heads.

    I want to put a smile on you face so I have to tell you that you that I found your blog during Christmas and I read a lot of blogs but have very few favorites, but you know, this is already a blog favorite to me.

    I live in Sweden and really enjoy myself by running several companies (,, The last one is a coaching consulting for companies (especially for women) which like to understand social media and making profit online. I say this because I admire what you have done with your company and would like to push others to do similar things.

    So Susannah, you have made my day (weeks) with your blog and I will tell all my clients about you.

  5. Kath

    “only loving your body when it is perfectly fit is like loving your children only when they are perfectly behaved.”* I know we are of the childless variety but as someone who has a few sagging years on you and is sporting a brand new 8” abdominal scar (so grotesque, so fresh), I applaud you and join you in being excited and proud of our new scars. Sending strong wishes and prayers that you hear the words I heard, “No Cancer!!!” Love from across the ocean…. XO

    *random quote from Facebook or twitter or pinterest, I can’t recall where nor credit appropriately.

  6. Andrea

    Sending lots of love your way.

  7. Jillian

    You’re very wise in viewing this challenge as an opportunity for growth and asking yourself “what is the lesson here?”. Perhaps you’ve already gained what you needed to with this situation?

    Best wishes to you during this uncertain time. xx Jillian

  8. Sarah

    8 years ago my husband had been pestering me to have a mole on the shin of my right leg looked at. I agreed to go because he was right, it had changed. At the age of 26 I was diagnosed with melanoma. I was scared, we were scared. I had 1 inch margins removed as well as lymph nodes in my groin to make sure the cancer had not spread. Thank goodness it did not!! I was so lucky. The cancer had not spread and I did not require any further treatment. I contemplated sharing my story with you because I worried that it would seem negative or make you worry more. But I decided it was important for you to know that I really and truly to understand. I firmly believe that you will be fine. I am not sure why I think this, but I just do. I have a feeling. I too now have a scar, a big one and small one to remind me, not of the stressful time that it was, but to remind me of how lucky how I am. Sometimes this scary things have a profound positive effect on us. Sending love!! Sarah

  9. Rosie Grey

    Crossing my fingers for you, Susannah, and sending best wishes and thoughts!

  10. Phoe

    Firstly, I wish you speedy and positive biopsy results. I went through a (thankfully false) scare a few years ago, it’s an unnerving process.

    Secondly, this resonated so powerfully for me it was like my soul was a bell that had just been struck. I have the exact opposite problem. I got sick with a chronic autoimmune disease 9 years ago and I have been living so much in my body that I’ve neglected my head. And since I’m always told I think too much, that was a shock.

    Here’s to unification of self, mind and body.

  11. MARLIS

    Thanks for sharing Susannah. I really hope you’ll hear the same as I heard recently from my dermatologist: no cancer. Sending lots of positive vibes your way!

  12. sperlygirl

    been there…about 13 times now. luckily, all have come back ok just abnormal but it’s always best to err on the side of caution. i understand the wait though…it’s never easy – each time.

  13. christine hickey

    Susannah – I will be thinking good thoughts for you.

    In the meantime, what you said about scars… Scars are cool! I have a few – some from accidents, some from surgeries, a nice mix. Its like part of the record of your story. Every scar has a story – ask anyone about how they got their scars. I think scars are cool and I think its cool that you think so too!

  14. barbara

    hoper everything turns out fine, Susannah!! I am the same age (turing 40 in april) and the last year in me 30s I am experimenting changes I didn´t before…I´ve got 3 white hairs (I hadn´t not a single one before turning 39), today after the shower, I discovered 2 white pubic hairs which made me cry loftily, it has been 3 weeks that I am dealing with sciatica and there is a part of my left foot which is kind of numb and I am unable to do certain movements with it, which kind of scares the crap out of me. My biological clock is ticking louder and louder and louder..
    you do soo right getting a new tattoo!!

  15. Sherri B.

    I hope your results bring good news…I love your honest writing. It is a helpless feeling to watch our bodies “evolve” as they age!

  16. Rachel

    I work with people a lot who, like you, have lived a life from the neck up until something about the vehicle that gets them about tends to go awry. So many people have been there and there are other people like me who help sew things back together again! (in fact, if I’m honest, that sewing back together is my biggest passion!) Happy to talk about it if you want to.

    Sending you love + light xxxx

  17. Melissa

    I just turned 30 in September, so I can relate to you in some way. And boy, do i ever get the skin thing. My entire life has been me worrying about being in the sun.– 15 minutes and I’m baked. I’ve always been so self conscious about it… but I’ve learned to embrace it. I don’t mind anymore that I have skin so fair it’s “transparent”. haha.
    In any case, I guess this is all about maturing, and CHANGE. NEWNESS is my word for 2013. I’m 30 now… I started going grey at 25 (thanks mom) and all of a sudden I’m thinking about how much being an adult sucks sometimes; how I have to start thinking about anti-aging regimes, feeling myself up for lumps, etc…
    But, it’s inevitable right? So we may as well go with the flow and embrace these experiences. Great post! Thanks

  18. Karen B

    Susannah, thank you for this post. It is timely for me – I too have suffered a disconnect from my body (the result of ‘unacceptable’ messages as a child) and I also live from the neck up. I enjoyed your piece as a reminder that our bodies send us messages, but also reflects what we go through in life – I, too, have a mole removal scar – but I also have three ceasarian scars (why do I see ugly when they are reminders of my three beautiful girls?). I could go on, but maybe I’ll do my own blog post on this – it might help me release some of my issues! I hope you have the outcome you desire from this experience – much love Lovely Lady and again, thank you! x

  19. Lauren Burkitt

    You have such a beautiful heart, thank you for sharing it with us.
    Sending good energy to you from British Columbia :)

  20. Iris Ztarr

    sending you beautiful healing energy from Finland and thanking you for your blog posts. I used to be a massage therapist and always asked my clients about any scars they had. It was a great way to share life stories!

  21. maura

    Sending Blessings and good wishes your way.

  22. sarah

    Susannah, I will be thinking of you and sending you healing blessings from the PNW.

    I just love your description of living your life “from the neck up”. Isn’t that just the way we introverts are? LOL! It’s so hard to come out of our own heads and take stock of the rest of us. I’m glad that you did and you did the right thing by getting checked out by a doctor. Can’t wait to see the scar (I love my scars)!

  23. Cristina

    I too tend to live my life from my neck up, and so body/mind/spirit balance is my quest too…

    Sending blessings & positive energy your way xx

  24. diane

    Your writing just keeps getting better and better. I’ll say a prayer that you receive a favorable biopsy report. Thanks for passing along the wisdom of your words.

  25. ellemarcheseule

    You write so beautifully and so powerfully – thank you for sharing this. And the very best wishes for the biopsy result.

  26. Anne-Marie

    Best wishes for a good biopsy result. I have a lot of moles and I live in New Zealand where the sun at this time of the year burns me to a crisp in five minutes, so I’ve always been a little paranoid.

    I hear you on the aging thing. It’s weird!

  27. Catherine Denton

    I’ve never thought about the fact that grief has no visible scar, wow, that’s huge. I’ll be praying everything comes back okay. It’s good you’re keeping your mind busy with tattoo thoughts in the meantime.
    Catherine Denton

  28. Danielle

    I had a mole on my abdomen removed on Tues & this is my 3rd biopsy. I wish that I could say that it gets easier but in my limited experience it is still nerve-wracking every. single. time. Wishing you a clear result!

  29. jane

    loving you Susannah… sitting at your side while the tests are done…

  30. Aimee

    EEK stitches! And in a soft flesh area too! I’m right there with you in the aging / adjusting / accepting. I wasted my 20’s on someone that did not deserve it and in my mid-thirties I feel like time has been lost trying to figure out what I want. So far I only know what I don’t want. I thought yesterday that maybe my 40’s will be when I “get it together”. I’m a mess. Thank you for sharing the “personal” stuff. When I started my blog I shared more personal thoughts and feelings than I do now. I want to get back to that but I get shy and retreat into my shell. I continue to be inspired by your braveness so thank you for that as well. I hope the biopsy turns out to be nothing, but if it is something I can tell that you are strong enough to get through it. <3

  31. Caryn

    Beautiful and thought-provoking post, Susannah, as always. I’ve been in your shoes and have always considered my scar a badge of honor, too. I know how difficult it is to wait for biopsy results. Thinking of you here in California with fingers crossed for favorable results.

  32. Laurie

    Aging is difficult even when we try hard to be “above” all the physical descriptions of ourselves. But together we will all not only go through the changes time leaves us with but we will continue to learn and find beautiful moments, each and every day. I am sending you positive thoughts and hugs as you wait to hear from your doctor.

  33. Pepper

    Sending lots of love and light your way. I had a bout with Stage III Melanoma this year and I’m only 36. Honestly it was a rough ride, but as with all things, there were many wonderful lessons to be learned. I am praying for good health and peace for you. No matter what though, you’re always loved beyond measure.

  34. Lee

    Not quite two years ago I had a small bcc removed from just above my eyebrow. I have a brilliant dermatologist and a wonderful Mohs surgeon. I trust them both and am very at ease with them.
    I worried about my scar ahead of time. Once I had it I too felt it was something I was comfortable with and, yes, a little proud of. It meant I was attentive and brave and came through it all stronger.
    I wish you good outcomes, swift healing and all the good things your word “open” holds for you in 2013…
    – Lee

  35. Jackee

    Dear Susannah I know you will be okay. I really appreciate you sharing with us.

    Keep well.


  36. Vickie

    ouch! hope the results are good news.

  37. Kelly breedlove

    I too hope that all your results are in soon with good results. I am thankful you shared it with us so we can hold space for you.

    I turned 40 in October and I think getting a tattoo is a fabulous way to start the next season of you life. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  38. Susanne

    Hi Susannah, I can image that you have a difficult time at the moment – to live with all this uncertainty and fear. I wish you all the best. Love, Susanne

  39. La plume et la page

    I hope the results will be good. Have a good evening Susannah!

  40. Patti L

    ++++vibes to you…hope all is well & clear.

  41. Burnt umber

    Dear lovely Susannah
    I’ve had three moles removed over the years and the biopsy has been absolutely fine in all cases. Try not to worry too much. Thinking of you.

  42. Kathryn

    All so beautifully put. I hope everything goes well with the results, Susannah.

  43. Quinna

    As you are putting your body back together…remember your word…OPEN. Open to new ideas about staying healthy!

  44. MElinda

    You are greatly loved.
    I always tell myself this line from a poem…God is in His heaven,all is right in the world. It seems to help me know that as long as that is true I can face things bravely.

  45. Zoe

    Susannah, I would like to thank you for sharing your story. And now that you have a scar, you have a new story to tell. Best of luck with your biopsy results.

    I would also like to remind everyone of just how amazing our bodies are. Yes, they sag, age, wear out over time, BUT they are amazing! Our bodies let us do so many things – run, hug, give birth, hula hoop, fight infections, cartwheel. The list goes on. Instead of thinking in a somewhat negative mindset of how our bodies change, maybe we should think about all the fantastic things, big and small, our body has done in our lifetime and the things it will continue to do and is yet to do.

  46. kira

    I love how you wrapped the mole scare around the bigger issue of body acceptance, aging and mind body connection. I struggle with all of these same issues as i climb into my 40’s. I have had more moles removed than I care to think about, one or two a year, they all come back fine. some they say a little abnormal but not bad. whatever that means but every time i have one removed, i hold my breath in some way as i wait the results. kind of like when i get my annual mammogram. I have to remind myself to stay present for what is not what is in my mind.

    So for now on I will look at all of my scars randomly scattered over my body as reminders of my self care. Thank you for that.

  47. Janice

    I remember waiting for biopsy results, it felt like such a limbo, as I wondered what I should have done differently, if I could have done anything differently, all pointless, as I also worried what would happen if it was positive….
    it was positive, throat cancer that had spread into my lymph nodes, 3 & 1/2 years ago; treatment now behind me, and all is well.
    I feel for you, this moment of waiting is really undescribable, hopefully you will not have to wait too long.
    hoping for good news.

  48. kelly

    for something so small (teensy-weensy snip), getting a biopsy really requires an inverse proportion of comfort. It’s an odd feeling – not limbo, not Damocles’ sword hanging above – nothing quite compares. I prescribe total indulgence of all needs and wants for one week. And being with people who make you feel good, even if its just the man at the pub who pours your Guinness

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