We’re all affected by our jobs. If you’re in retail, you likely know which brands are most popular and when they are on sale. If you’re a teacher, you go home with stories about the antics of your students. If you work for a dermatologist, you walk around noticing people’s skin.
My friends and family might say that I’m a bit obsessed with skin these days. I can’t help but notice moles on my loved ones and mentally assess its size, shape, color, and texture. I am infuriated when my children come home from school with sunburns despite the sunscreen they brought in their backpacks. So, when I noticed two strange spots on my leg a couple of months ago, I admit I became obsessed with them. I measured them, tried my best to sort through the information I found online, and wondered. Every day, I wondered if these spots were cancerous; or warts that could be frozen off; or some other strange ugly growth that I’d have to live with forever.
I couldn’t decide if it was worth going to the dermatologist, or if I was just bringing my work home with me. So, I gave the First Derm app a try. I took two pictures – one overview of the area and one close-up – and sent it in to be reviewed by a board-certified dermatologist. I also measured the growths, and described the nature and duration of my symptoms.
The next day, I received an answer to my case that stopped me in my tracks: the First Derm dermatologist said I should see a dermatologist (in person) in order to rule out basal cell carcinoma.
From Community Manager to Patient
It’s strange how a simple email message can turn the tables. I went from being a community manager for First Derm to a patient – a patient who might have skin cancer.
Having just spent the month of May promoting skin cancer awareness, I knew I had some risk, and knew that if I was going to get skin cancer, basal cell is the one to get. It generally doesn’t metastasize like the others. I knew we’d caught it early. So, I called a dermatologist.
A week or so later (I was lucky there was a cancellation and I didn’t have to wait a month thinking I might have skin cancer), I was in the dermatologist’s office having the spots removed and sent for biopsy. The areas on my leg are still healing, but my biopsy results show that the lesions were benign. If I hadn’t used First Derm, I would’ve always wondered about those bumps. I’d have waited until my next annual check up to consult my doctor. This app saved me months of worry.
The Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence and others.