Do you think much about skin cancer when you go outside to tan? I never used to. I used to love to layout. Heck, we used to use baby oil to help us tan when I was young.
I just had surgery for skin cancer yesterday. I had a basal cell skin cancer on my nose and had to have the Mohs surgery preformed. I wanted to share with you, so that hopefully you won’t have to have it done at anytime in your lifetime… or you will get that questionable mole or spot checked out by your dermatologist. Don’t worry.. I won’t show you the actual wound.. nothing gross (just my face…ewwww…)
My Mom passed away from melanoma 11 years ago.
My Dad has had multiple basal cell cancers removed, almost all from his face. He used to play golf a lot and was exposed to a lot of sun. He has had flaps to repair where they had taken the basal cell cancers.
Now… me. I have been going in to the dermatologist almost every 6 months for several years. I get a total body scan. My dermatologist Dr. Kelley Zyniewicz with Central Ohio Skin and Cancer is wonderful. She is very pro active with me (“with your family history Sandy…” ) and takes off anything she sees, along with anything I am worried about. My motto has become, “Better scars than dead”. I have had well over a dozen dysplastic nevus off, one really bad one on the back of my calf.
But this has been my first experience with a basal cell cancer. I went in for my basic every six month skin check and my dermatologist wanted to know how long this place on my nose had been there. I said, “I don’t know, a few weeks, I think it is a zit”. She said she was taking it off. She was right… it was a basal cell.
I want you to look at it. Even though getting this close to my face is kind of gross, it really didn’t look like much of anything did it? It didn’t hurt or bother me at all. It had only been there a few weeks as far as I know. So I thought it was a zit.
There are three kind of skin cancers:
Melanoma – The worse skin cancer. This one will metastasize to other organs of your body and has the highest death rates from skin cancer.
Squamous Cell – This is the least common of the three skin cancers. It usually doesn’t cause problems when caught early. But it can also metastasize to other parts of the body.
Basal Cell – This kind of skin cancer won’t kill you. It doesn’t metastasize, but it can disfigure you. It grows like an ice berg. What you see above the surface (what we see) is only the tip of the ice berg. The rest of the ice berg is underneath and it is hard to tell how large it is. They treat it by doing what they call Mohs Surgery.
Mohs Surgery – They go in after you have been diagnosed with the skin cancer. My Doctor originally took off the little bump I had a couple weeks ago. I got the results back last week that it was a basal cell cancer. I had my appointment yesterday for the Mohs.
They told me to pack a lunch, or I could go out to lunch – but to plan on being there all day. My appointment was at 8:30am.
I went back and they did the first “pass”. They removed part of the area. This was me after she had me numbed and I was waiting for the Doctor to come in and start surgery. I mean… who really takes a picture of them self right before surgery? lol
They put a pressure dressing on me and I went out in the smaller private waiting room to wait. It took close to 2 hours and they told me they didn’t get it all. Great isn’t it?
About 12:15 they told me that they did get it all, but that it would still take a little time for them to bring me back to close the wound.
Once back in the room, she asked if I could look at it. I said sure. It was bigger than a pencil eraser, but smaller than a dime, circular and was black because they had cauterized it to stop the bleeding.
Here is what threw me… I thought they could just stitch it up. But she said because it was deeper and more extensive than they thought they could do one of two things.
1) Skin Graft – Take a small piece of skin from in front of my ear and transplant it. The negative part of this is that the skin color won’t match. It will be whiter than the skin on my nose.
2) Flap surgery – If she were to do this surgery, she would use a piece of skin that attaches to my nose. She would have gone down the edge of my nose towards my lip. This keeps the skin and blood supply alive to heal. But I would have had a scar.
I picked the skin graft, but inside I was crying. I had no idea that only after 2 times going back that this was a possibility. I thought these procedures were for much more extensive repairs. I was actually glad for the anesthetic injection this time because I was able to let out some real tears along with the ones that came from the stinging so close to my eyes.
The took a place in front of my ear that required 4 sutures and put a bandage over that. Then the actual graft she said had 6 sutures in it.
Here is me this morning: I was surprised my eye wasn’t all swollen and black like they said it might be. It is a little dark, and you can see the swelling just above the dressing on the side of my nose. I do know I’m wiped out today. That is pretty wimpy isn’t it? It isnt’ like I had some big surgery or anything.
I get to wear that beauty on my nose a full week!! I am not allowed to get it wet or remove it at all. The graft has to “take”. I guess there is an actual dressing sutured over the graft too. The one on over the “donor” site or the place in front of my ear I can take off today.
So.. moral of the story is: USE SUNSCREEN and GO TO YOUR DERMATOLOGIST for checks!! A nice tan isn’t worth dying over or having to have surgeries to remove skin cancers for! Really!