Post MOHS surgery x3- 5 days later

 

 

I have had so many people checking in on me over the last few days, I just wanted to say thank you so much. I am so grateful to have so many friends and family members who have taken the time to call or text, or order my family dinner, drop of gifts and goodies, bring me drinks or offer to go get me more pain meds when the ones prescribed to me just weren’t cutting it!

I thought I would update everyone real quick as to how it’s going! First off, I drove today! That was a pretty big deal, and probably just a little too soon. While, I’m not really in as much pain, I’m still babying the incision on my leg, it’s probably at the biggest risk of the stitches busting or becoming infected. It also seems that if I’m on it too much, my ankle and foot begin swelling…so for now, I’m still on the couch. Luckily I work from home and have plenty to keep me busy!

We changed all of the bandages on Sunday…even though I have pictures and I was there and knew full and well what was happening, it is still a shock to look in the mirror and see.

First was my head as this was the bandage that was bugging me the most, the tape was stuck in my hairline, so of course I lost more hair that I didn’t have to spare…I’m TRYING to let it grow again, but it seems like it’s just going to stay short. Anyway, overall it didn’t look too bad, and if I try to find a positive from it, it’s kind of like a mini botox or face lift or something….on one side of my forehead….wonder if I can get insurance to cover treatment for the other side? The incision site really never bothered me too terribly, unless I was laughing, yawning, eating, talking….ok, so I guess it did bother me, but I can assure you that the headaches were WAY worse. I don’t know if it was from all the numbing medicine or the tugging and pulling or both maybe, but I am talking full blown migraines. EVERYTHING

was getting to me, the light, noise, everything…and I was already cranky and tired…so it wasn’t good. 

In comparison, this was a much longer incision than my last MOHS on my forehead, 2 years ago….and interestingly it runs right into that first scar. This time my doctor chose to run my stitches in a line on my head rather than vertically like the previous doctor had, I’m interested to see how it heals and if it scars bad?

Why do I look so angry???

My leg was next, I was so scared to unwrap it, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I had feared, just have to remember to keep taking it very slow!

I know you’re probably looking at that and thinking I must be crazy, but really, I’m most concerned with that spot right in the middle opening up! There is a big indention that she warned me about, but I can live with that, the alternative was cutting a longer incision, down through the top of my foot. Um nope, indention is fine! The bruising wasn’t too bad when we checked this one on Sunday. It’s a bit more sore today, so I’m thinking, it’s probably beginning to bruise more.

Last was my chest, I don’t know why or what happened, but that tape would not budge. It had became one with my skin and did you know that the skin that’s kind of under your arm is the worst place in the world to have tape stuck to? Just don’t stick it there. Trust me. After 30 minutes of Kelsey taking a little off, waiting for me to stop screaming, then taking a little off…etc…OH and I almost forgot to mention the stitch that had somehow managed to weave itself into the tape…yeah, it’s a good thing Kelsey saw it before she ripped it off, that would not have been a pleasant moment.

Ok, there’s no sugar coating this one, it looks bad. It looks awful. The lighting is not good, but it’s yellow, and blue, and a little black, maybe brown…purple and did I mention red? And it hurts. And it’s swollen, it looks like I’m growing some weird thing off the side of my chest. And my poor skin is being pulled and tugged in ways it just wasn’t meant to. And one more thing I would like to address…because maybe someone will come up with some really cool answer to this…how on earth am I supposed to wear a bra?! And yes, I need to wear a bra…one because I was blessed in that area, and two because of the gravitational pull of the earth and kids, well lets just say my skin is getting even more abuse from the tightness and whatever. It’s awful, I can only walk around holding myself up for so long. I spent hours last night looking online for a post surgery bra. All I could find were ones for breast augmentation. Ugh. I don’t need that! I even looked into things like shoulder surgery, there were a few recommendations like strapless bras and camis, but again…that blessing I mentioned and strapless bras are of the devil. So, this morning I found a very old, very stretched out, cotton bra from Victorias Secret vintage 1990 and that is what is working. I’m not sure how long it’s going to last before it gives out though, it has seen better days. So if anyone has any good ideas, please let me know because I’m at a loss and I still have over a week before the stitches get to come out!

Anyway, that’s how I am. I’m so ready to get past this bump in the road and move on, but I think it’s going to take a little longer than I originally hoped! I will update you all again soon!

 

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Dear Skin Cancer, you can go now.

***** THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST HAS GRAPHIC PICTURES FROM MY MOHS PROCEDURE, DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE THEM*****

Dear Skin Cancer,

We have had a tumultuous relationship over the last 10+ years, from the first time you showed up, and I tried to get rid of you, only to be left with the first of many scars to remind me that you were here…that the poison you had maimed my skin with may be gone, but the jagged line would always remain. To today, when I had 3 of your ugly little tumors deeply cut from my tired body. I am done. I know that  you aren’t though. I know that you will pop up again and again. So, I’m here to tell you, that although I’m exhausted and the pain may feel excruciating. I will fight. I will rise above this and you again. So skin cancer, really, you can just go now…because you will never win.

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Well today was difficult. I went in, thinking it would be, but not really preparing myself for the magnitude of how difficult it would be.

My mom and I arrived at the new doctor’s office this morning at 11am, everyone was extremely nice and I immediately liked (loved) my new doctor. She was extremely informative and knowledgeable and also used to be THE MOHS surgeon for Tulane University, but above all of that, she was so incredibly personable and kind and REAL. She’s officially my favorite, and forever more, anytime I need something cut off of me, I will be giving her a call! 🙂

So, anyway, there I am, back in that fun little reclining, raising, chair thing…bright lights shining down on me as I explained my story, my background, my spots, my tanning history, my genetic history, my belief that this goes so far beyond just normal sun damage. She examined the areas that were to be removed, one small one on my forehead, right at my hairline, near where the last one was removed; one on my upper left chest area, and one on my lower left shin. The shin I was really worried about. The one on my chest she was really worried about. Then we began, all while my poor mom sat and tried not to watch. If you’re not familiar with MOHS, there is no general anesthesia, it’s just local numbing medicine. Medicine that I have an extremely high tolerance against, so it takes a LOT of shots…and even then, I still feel “things”. I think the numbing was the worst part. That stuff HURTS! Anyway, after all of the areas were good and I couldn’t feel any sharp pain, everything was marked and measured so the doctor knew what to remove.

Now comes the fun part…not really. With a MOHS procedure, they remove the main tumor area, then they slice a little more, those sections are then sliced into very thin segments and carefully examined under a microscope until they have sections that have “clean” edges, meaning no more cancer cells. I prayed for a one and done type scenario but wasn’t surprised to hear that my leg and my chest would both need more removed, luckily they were small parts, so it wasn’t too invasive, and after the second time, she got it all.

As I have always done in my past posts about my skin cancer journey, I take pictures and post them here. Some people don’t understand why. When I first had MOHS surgery on my face, I was terrified. I knew how it worked, I knew that there was no certainty that it would be a small scar, and it was my face. I researched and looked all over the internet, but I could never find a real account, from a real person that had been through something like what I was facing. After that surgery, and those posts…I had an outpouring of support and people just thanking me for sharing, I somehow had helped them by doing something that I wished had been there for me. I was contacted by the local news station and interviewed, teachers and doctors from all over asked me if they could share my blog with their colleagues and students, MD Anderson shared my story, and even Good Morning America did a piece about me. Unfortunately, this was all around the time that the “tanning mom” story was going viral, and I got tied in with a lot of tanning bed stories. While I did use a tanning bed in my younger days, I’m still not convinced that, that is what has been the sole contributor to my condition. I’ve been told it could possibly be genetic or perhaps even auto immune related. The whole problem is no one can tell me and I don’t know where to begin to get the answers, I’ve been searching for so long.

The area on my forehead was the least of my concerns, I knew it would be ok & could be stitched up nicely.

This is actually a picture of a picture, the white card in the picture are the actual pieces sent to the lab to examine.

My chest really worried her, this had been an area of concern for me for about 6-7 years, however, I was told by several doctors it was nothing to worry about. 😦 The white spot on the edge of the wound is where the cancer still was after she removed the large portion and had to come back in for another piece.

My poor leg. This was after the first portion was taken, dead center of the wound is where she came back and had to go even deeper. It’s hard to tell be cause of all of the swelling, but this one was really deep, while the others were more wide. Luckily it had not made it to the bone, thank you God!

Once, everything had been deemed, clean, it was time to start stitching. One thing that I failed to mention about my doctor was that she also prides herself on her stitching skills! She felt very confident that my scar on my forehead would be barely noticeable and with good care the same goes for the one on my chest. My leg, however, is another story. Because of where it is, right on my shin bone and the fact that there isn’t much skin to pull together there, it may not heal well. Leg injuries, rarely scar pretty either. I’m just planning to take it as easy as I can until my follow up appointment in 2 weeks.

Pretty long incision scar on my leg.

She followed my natural “wrinkle” lines…Oh joy.

Definitely going to have a lot of bruising with the chest site, it was already starting to change color.

Overall, we were there from 11am until 4:30 pm. I am exhausted. I hurt everywhere. I have a horrendous headache I guess from the pressure and tugging on my forehead, I don’t know how I am going to sleep tonight, or even if I will be able to. I’m not supposed to move much, or put any pressure on my leg for a minimum of 48 hours. My pain meds aren’t really working and I still know that I have more of the battle left to fight, I have so many superficial areas that I’m hoping to speak to my dermatologist about next week and see about having PDT treatments done. Through it all though, I am thankful that it wasn’t worse. I am thankful for my mom being there with me today, even at my age, I still need my mom. I am thankful for my  church family and all of the prayer warriors that were praying so vehemently for me today. I am thankful for sweet friends who are offering to bring my family dinner and asking how they can help, if you know me, you know I never ask for help, but this time I am accepting and I can not thank them enough! I am thankful for a Father who will not leave me, who knows His plans for me and has provided me with strength to not be afraid and continue confidently through this battle, my battle is also the battle of so many others and it brings me comfort knowing that by sharing what I am experiencing, that maybe I am providing a little peace to someone else.

Well here I go again on my own…well not really.

I’m not really on my own as so many of you have been sharing this journey with me for so long! I hope that all of you that follow and read my blog and who are also fighting skin cancer, are doing well. I absolutely love hearing from you!

So this blog has turned out to be sort of my health/skin cancer journey blog. This last year has been. I leave it at that, because I’m not entirely sure what it has been. We are still here in the rental house, I still have the chickens, minus several roosters. I have started my own business, Creatively Chaotic. I offer logo design, content creation and branding services as well as some social media management, it’s been going great and I am actually more content with my “job” than I have ever been. In addition, I launched my photography business, and I’m taking courses to learn everything that I can.

2 weeks ago, I went into yet another dermatologist. After my last round and MOHS procedure, and the aftermath of my shoulder just not healing, I decided to try another doctor. Of course, after the examination, he took one look at me in the eyes and said…why does a woman your age (43) have so many skin cancer spots? Um, yeah, that’s why I’m here. For YOU to tell ME. This doctor was VERY proactive, he immediately decided to biopsy 6 spots, 2 on my upper left arm, one on my back (among about 9 other ones, I don’t know what made him chose that particular one) one on my chest, one on my forehead and one on my lower left shin. I didn’t need to wonder, after a week, the results came back, all Basal Cell Carcinomas. He was concerned with the one on my chest, head and leg and sent me another specialist to schedule and immediate removal via MOHS surgery. Which leads me where I am…my surgery is set for Thursday at 11am, I will be sharing and posting as much as possible. I am asking that everyone say a small prayer that the spot on the left leg will be easy to remove, that the doctor will get all of the cancer in the first round, and that the healing process is quick and as painless as can be.

As usual I thought I would share some pictures. This one is of my leg after the biopsy, as you can see it’s right on the bone.  The other one is on my left upper chest area. Interestingly enough, in both areas, I was told that the “spot” was not a skin cancer but a keloid, nothing to be concerned with. Yet here I am a few years later and they are both basal cells…very bad basal cells. Lesson to be learned from this? Don’t always just listen and trust your doctor, if you feel like something isn’t right, then demand that they biopsy it and then make the diagnosis. I can only think that if I had found out 5 years ago, that these spots were cancer, I may not have to go through this today.

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The Weight of Wings

wings

Lately I have been toying with the idea of quitting. This is not a new idea to me, I have been known to quit before. I never looked at it as quitting, you see, when you make excuses for WHY you quit, then it seems logical… I know, it’s still quitting, but not always the same to me. So, that brings me to the thought of quitting now…just what am I thinking about? Well, since we moved, back in March, things have gone from crap to crappier…and yes, I realize that isn’t really the correct term, but it’s the PG version and better than what is in my head. I want to quit EVERYTHING. Let me break it down for you; after moving, struggling with one financial windfall after another, and then being laid off…I decided it was time to focus on the things that I am good at, make something of that. Here is how my situation currently looks, I have gained 10 pounds trying to eat healthier, but cheating constantly, because Ketogenic diets {suck} are really hard. I have had a flare up with my skin cancer, AND broken out in to some crazy weird new condition, where I itch uncontrollably, get crazy welts, then get better, then itch again (did I mention, I was laid off and have no insurance?)  I have killed more baby chicks than I have hatched due to not really knowing how to do this whole incubating eggs thing correctly. I have lied to myself and others and failed to show up to work out when I said I would because you know, I’m SO busy. My marriage, well, it’s been an uphill climb for as long as I can remember, as a lot of marriages are, however, lately mine has felt like it’s uphill on an icy slope, while I’m wearing flip flops… Bills are stacking up, dishes stack up, laundry stacks up, chicken poop stacks up, and dog hair stacks up….what is NOT stacking up is me. I just don’t even. This is not me. I don’t ever not even, I’m a pick it up and put on your big girl britches and get it done. But lately, lately, I just don’t care. I’m tired. I want a break. I want God to give me a break. I’m getting kind of angry, and resentful. I’m a daughter of the one true King, I know who my Daddy is, I thank Him every morning for the mercies of a new day, and the beautiful people HE entrusted me with, but oh my gosh. I just NEED a little break. I have been on my knees, I have put every single ounce of every single bit of my soul into knowing that His plans are for me, not against me, does that mean I have to hit like middle of the Earth rock bottom? And does, this ranting and complaining mean that I don’t trust enough? I’m just so lost.

I have been reading, 5 Habits of A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit, thank God, I started it when I did, because I’m pretty sure, I may have ran screaming into the woods at some point if I hadn’t. In it, the author Nicki Koziarz, references the story of Ruth. I have spent many a morning, dwelling there, considering Ruth and Naomi’s situation, how it was handled, how long they were there  (which we don’t really know), how they didn’t lose faith. Man, I’m pretty sure I would not have been as patient as Ruth was, not with Naomi, or with Boaz, I would have definitely screwed it up and most likely changed my whole course of history. So that leads me to where I am currently, how do you know that you haven’t already altered God’s plan for you? What if I missed the big DETOUR sign a long time ago and I’m just wandering down some crazy, weed infested, overgrown path that leads straight off a cliff into the middle of nothing? Emma and I also watched Joy yesterday, again, someone else who just would NOT quit. I feel like these are all “signs” I’m being told to keep on keeping on…things will turn out the way they should, but man it is hard. So, so hard. I know there will be treasures in this trial, and that those treasures may be covered in soot and tarnished and that its most likely going to take quite a bit of work on my end to clean them up and discover the beauty that they will be…

Social media is a funny thing, we often look in from the outside at other people’s lives and think, man their grass is GREEN, so deceiving, we all have brown patches, some of us have whole giant yards of burnt dead grass, ashes where green should be growing, and it so easy to make beauty out of the ashes, to carry so, so much weight on your shoulders and make it look like a pair of wings, but I’m here to tell you, these wings are heavy. Incredibly heavy. I keep waking up and unfolding them and trusting in the fact that someday, they will become lighter and lighter and eventually I will have the strength to open them up and fly…but for now, I’m just doing good to put both feet on the floor.

This morning was a start, I went and worked out, made it through a rather grueling WOD and wanted to quit so bad. I didn’t. I made it through and I feel better because I did. I need to remember that, in all situations, the reward for not quitting feels so much better than the failure of stopping.  Just like Ruth, I need to get my butt up every morning with the determination that she did, do the things that maybe I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that by doing them I am one step closer to the treasure.

Prayer:

Father, I know that I often pray for things that you might not be ready to show me. I also realize that I need to trust you more and accept that your plans are good and that there are treasures to come from these trials. God, please help me find peace and contentment in the place I am currently in, protect my family and guide me in the direction that you have chosen for me, lead me not along the wrong path, lighten the burdens that are currently weighing on the shoulders of myself and my husband and remind us that through it all we must love one another.

 

Well that wasn’t so bad….

A lot of people don’t really understand skin cancer, there are 3 major different types, Basal Cell, Squamous Cell and Melanoma. This morning as I was moaning and groaning and being grouchy because I just absolutely did NOT want to go in for my appointment with my skin cancer doctor, I finally took a deep breath and reminded myself how much worse it could be. My cancer is curable. My cancer isn’t deadly. My cancer doesn’t own me. I decided to suck it up and go deal with it. 

This is what skin cancer can look like. 

  
Yep, that’s it…those 3 itchy, scabby, flaky spots on my forehead. Those are Basal Cell Carcinomas and most likely due in large part because of my obsession with being tan when I was younger, you know, like last week. Those lines are also thanks to that wonderful sun damage as well. I still like being tan, hence the reason I own my own airbrush tanning business! Anyhow, the spot that you see on the left side of my forehead was the worrisome area. It had been there longer, bled often and had gotten bigger. After my experience with my shoulder I know better than to let anything go too long without getting checked quickly! Going in I had high hopes (very high) that possibly I could treat all 3 spots topically. There are a few different medications that work to stop the growth of basal cells and other precancerous lesions. Unfortunately in my situation the spot on the left side required MOHS, the same procedure I had done on my face and shoulder. So with a deep breath, I went through the prepping process…to me the numbing injections are the worst! However with this one again on my face its a little disturbing to have someone cutting your face open while you are wide awake. Round one….

  
My initial thought when I saw this picture was “Man, my forehead is deep…who knew?” I’m weird I know! But really I had to even ask if he was close to my skull…apparently not. My doctor now realizes that I act nothing like his other patients!

Anyway after that the nurse came back in and exclaimed that they had gotten it all!! Round one and DONE! I can not even tell you how relieved I was, I didn’t even know that I had been shaking until I realized that I was finally sitting still. So after meticulously stitching it closed I was on my way, this time with a prescription for Effudex as well as pain meds…

  
So now I’m left with swelling and a temporary “angry eye” from the numbing medicine, but overall I’m pretty satisfied with how it came out. Painfully satisfied. Like someone stabbed me in my forehead but other than that I’m great! 

Enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend but don’t forget to protect yourself from those evil rays that the sun can shoot your way!  ☀️❤️

7-ish days post op



Actually I am about  12 days right now.  I started to post at 7 days and forgot. It sucks, it hurts, it makes me remember to be careful…I am not careful by any means., my spirit is reckless and free and I do not do well being cooped up and told not to move. Do you realize how much you move your shoulder every single day? It’s a lot. I promise. So that was day 7 and we started to notice some redness and swelling…



This is day 9….more redness and more swelling. I broke down and called the doctors office and sent them a picture. They promptly had me on a new, broad spectrum antibiotic. I am keeping it covered daily and using an ointment called bag balm to protect it.



Day 12. Today. I have been over doing it. Today I pressure washed the house and cleaned out the garage. It’s not really hurting so it’s hard to remember I’m still healing. There is more redness and now some bleeding. I have an appointment on Tuesday to have the sutures removed, I have to admit I’m a little worried about infection and what’s going on. I plan on letting it get some air and not bandage it tonight. It’s hard to not be active, especially with having to work and take care of kids…sigh. 

Guess only time will tell how this turns out…once again I feel like my face was a much easier surgery and healing process.