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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