I dragged myself to the dermatologist, knowing I needed to get this spot looked at even though I was nervous of the outcome. Turns out that spot was nothing, just a little bump, she froze it off telling me to come back in 4 weeks for a follow up and re-freeze if needed. At that time she looked at me and said, "look you're in the clear now but you need to realize you're coloring makes you more prone to skin cancer and you need to wear a hat and sunscreen all the time, not spray sunscreen real rub in sunscreen" That advice stuck with me and I did a pretty good job for the next month that I was outside being diligent with my sunscreen. I had my follow up in late May where she had to re-freeze the first spot, she checked my face again, no new changes and sent me on my way for a follow up in July.
The summer came and I got busy with the kids and vacations. I kept moving my appointment back since the spot looked good and I didn't have anything to worry about. I finally went back in mid-September. I remember it was right before my mom's club fall kick off party but I wasn't worried since everything had healed up. As my dermatologist was looking at the spot she agreed it had healed well and looked good needing no further treatment. She then glanced down at a spot just a few centimeters below and said "Is this new and I said oh I don't think so, I think it's been there but it just seems to be a zit that won't go away and she was like no I don't think that's it. It looks very suspicious to me we need to biopsy it today." I've had a few spots biopsied before that turned out to be nothing. I was honestly most upset for the cosmetic aspects of having to have a biopsy on my forehead right before a party. It was quick and painless and she told me if it was anything I would receive a call in two weeks time, if it was nothing then I wouldn't hear anything. No news was good news.
I went about life trying not stress too much about it. Two weeks came and went with no call from the doctor. I felt so relived knowing I was in the clear. Then a week later I received a phone call. The spot on my skin was in fact skin cancer, it was a non-melanoma, basal cell carcinoma. I was shocked and upset at first. I had been so good for so many years. I was only 34 and I had stopped tanning beds and baking in the sun with spf 8 many many years ago. I was being so good lately, how could I have gotten this. I felt mad at myself to letting myself burn so many times, or only wearing low sunscreen or no sunscreen back when I was younger or all the times I went for long runs and never ever thought to wear sunscreen. The one comforting part of all this is that it is a non-melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is one of the "best" skin cancers you can get if you have to get a skin cancer. It's very slow growing and easily treatable with Mohs surgery. Shortly after getting my diagnosis in November I met with a surgeon and scheduled my surgery for January 10, 2017. The surgeon explained to me that we had caught it early so it was small and shallow meaning it might only take one try to get it out.
I'm not going to lie cosmetically I was dreading this surgery. I really didn't want a scar on my face. Thankfully it's on the upper left hand corner of my forehead but it's still on my face. The mohs surgery was quick and easy. You don't even have to go asleep for it and I only had to go in once and they were able to get it all. The scariest part about the whole surgery is that I was the youngest person in the waiting room by at least 30 years. See for mohs surgery they do the procedure and then you have to wait an hour to a hour and a half for them to run the tissue and make sure they scraped all the cancer. They have you sit in a waiting room while they process. It was very weird to realize that I was the youngest one in there by so many years. My dermatologist explained to me that in some ways I'm lucky I got this skin cancer so young. It means I will be more diligent and thorough with my sunscreen, wearing hats, and rash guards than my peers who still see cancer as something older people get. The down side is that I'm now at 30% increased risk of developing melanoma since I'm so young so I need to take this seriously. I can still wear biknis and bathing suits as long as I'm wearing a strong SPF and limit my direct sunlight exposure. I see lots of sunscreen, hats, rash guards, and umbrellas in my future.
I'm on day two of recovery and today will be the first day I do a bandage change. I'm very nervous about seeing the scar. They warned me it will not be pretty at first and I keep reminding myself I have so much to be thankful for. It's not a melanoma. They were able to get it all in one time so my scar isn't as big or deep as it could be. It's not something I need to stress about coming back. Yes I could get more over the years but it's nothing like getting melanoma. Today is my last day of the big bandage below, then I move to a small bandage for 7 days until I can finally go to the thin clear silicone strips until my follow up in February.
I urge all of you to get your skin check regularly by the dermatologist! Especially if you have fair skin like me or have a spot that is worrying you. It took 3 trips to the dermatologist over 5 months for us to notice the spot that was cancer. It wasn't something that looked like all the this is skin cancer pictures you see on the internet. It was just a flat reddish pink spot on my head, that looked like a zit that was healing.
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