Skin Cancer- Up Close and Personal

When I was about 16 or so, my mom took me to a dermatologist to see about getting a birthmark on my left cheek removed. Needless to say, it was a simple quick procedure and I forgot the details about it. As per protocol, the doctor sent the sample out to be biopsied. My mom got a call two weeks later which informed her that basal cell carcinoma had been found. At 16, I wasn’t worried, I didn’t know much about it, and besides, it was gone. I went on with life.

Fast forward to the present. Months ago, I noticed a pimple on the spot where I had the birthmark removed so many years ago. It didn’t go away. I noticed a tiny divot right below that. It didn’t go away. I figured I should just get it checked out- just in case.

After three weeks of waiting to get in to see the doctor (which, by the way, is the son of my original doctor) I am finally seen. He pronounces the spot on my cheek a concern; snaps a picture with a digital camera, and biopsies the area.That was last Monday.

Yesterday was a week and a day later. I got the call. They never seem to call when everything’s fine. Sigh. The nurse informed me that I have “basal squamous cell carcinoma. I need to call another office in the area that performs “Mohs Micrographic Surgery.” I called 20 minutes later and I am immediately booked for the procedure this Friday at 7:15am.

I have so many questions. I really hope that I get a short question and answer session before we start this. I do know that I have to be prepared to be there all day. For those of you who do not know what this procedure is, I’ll give you a brief synopsis (I had never heard the term before yesterday myself).

´╗┐Mohs Surgery removes skin cancer one layer at a time until the tumor is completely removed. The process examines each layer microscopically, mapping the cancerous areas and allowing the surgeon to remove malignant cells without sacrificing healthy tissue.1

And of course I am a little nervous. What if the cancer has spread deeper than I think? What if I need stitches or a skin graft? I may be overthinking this, but writing about it definitely helps me.

I am also going to tell my 9 year old a little about the procedure, because he is old enough to understand cause and effect. Excess sunlight can equal skin cancer in the future. Hopefully he will continue to slather on the sunscreen so he will not be standing in my shoes in 30 years.

To be continued…


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