I had mentioned awhile back that I had a skin screen that resulted in some bad news. Two spots of Basal Cell Carcinoma. Boo.
I had the first one on my shoulder taken off a month ago and let me tell you, that was no easy process. I am STILL HEALING. The shoulder is a VERY USED muscle group and hard not to use with three small children. Near the end of my healing, it split open. It is now not a pretty little line like it was intended, more of a big ugly scar. It hasn't been very fun at all.
And all along, I find myself reminiscing to my high school days of bikini wearing, oil lathering hours of baking in the sun at the local pool. Beyond that, those minutes spent at Sun City under the fake rays of sun to "get some color" for many a high school dance or even because "I like being tan."
Don't get me wrong. I DO like being tan. And I DO stand by the "tan fat is better than white fat" mantra that I've lived by my whole life. It's just that I'll get my tan a little differently from now on...gradually since I'll be wearing layers of SPF!
Today I went into the Dermatologists office looking like this....
That tiny spot on the right (my left) cheek...the dreaded CANCER. (Pardon the good looks with no makeup!) OH, and the look of fear in my eyes. I was pretty nervous.
I was nervous because you walk into the unknown. They cannot tell you definitively how big your spot is as every person is different. They begin the procedure with a lot of numbing (which means a lot of painful sticks IN YOUR FACE). I was brave. And scared.
They took the first layer off with a fair amount of warning "it will be bigger than it looks or than you think it will be!" The first go around was about a dime size and as thick or thicker than a dime. I looked at it in the mirror. I was brave.
What the process involves is going in round after round. They take a sample/layer then freeze it and examine the cells to see if they removed all of the cancer or not and make a map of it to know precisely where to go from there.
After my second round I went back in and they delivered the "bad" news that it was a more aggressive type of BCC, fibrosis which grows fingerlike tentacles of cancer and can be harder to get. OHDEARGOD. I wasn't brave anymore. I was fighting back tears and had the kindest nurse that was so so so thoughtful and understanding. I think she wanted to cry with me. She showed me the map and there was a lot more cancer to be removed.
And more needles to the face.
I went through this two more times before I was finally "clear" and they began the process of stitching me up. This process was actually the hardest part. The area that was affected was a really hard spot. The stitches pulled at my smile or my nose. The Doctor had to really investigate the best option to not effect the look of my face and smile. That included making the scar bigger in a sense to make it better.
I was petrified. I was draped in a cloth and felt so insecure and worried. I was patient and prayerful and felt confident in the doctor's hands, but was worried. Not to mention that since he needed to make it bigger, sometimes I could FEEL the stitches and then he had to numb me up MORE each time. It was awful.
In the end, I believe the surgeon did the best job. Since the area was in a hard spot, he had to work really REALLY hard to not affect my smile or pull my nose. Although it LOOKS awful, it really is amazing. No stitch marks, no lines, no puckers or anything. I should heal in roughly my natural smile lines, over time. Here is what it looked like in the end.
You know, I had a really awesome youth. Trips to the beach, time on our boat growing up, hours lounging poolside with some of my best friends. I wouldn't trade those times for the entire world. I WOULD however go back and be that "nerdy" girl with a bottle of SPF instead of baby oil. ;) Since I cannot mend the error of MY ways, I can impact the future. Be certain that you will see my little brood covered in SPF from now on.
File another one under: lesson learned.