February 24, 2018
This week for the last 11 years, my husband and I have enjoyed trips to St. Maartin to get away from winter for a week! Not this year as it was essentially destroyed by a hurricane last fall. Sadly. Instead, I had the scare of scares 3 weeks ago when I went for my annual skin check at the dermatologist. I had one “thingy” on my forehead I wanted her to see specifically, but after that it was mainly just to thoroughly look me over with that special detection light from the crown of my head to the bottom of my feet and everywhere in between. When I was lying on my back, I said, “Oh, and this little bitty red thing here on my thigh.” She looked and immediately said she wanted to biopsy it. After that, she froze the the spots on my forehead and nose then out the door I went. Two days later, the biospy for my red spot (size of a pin head) was cancerous (basal cell carcinoma), so I needed to come back to remove the cancer cells that had manifested below the skin surface. Let me add, that I had noticed this red spot – crusty and red – for a couple of years, but didn’t think anything of it. (Boy, was I wrong!) My appointment was at 8:00 am and Olivia (not my daughter) and Josh were the assistants. Dr. Anne Marie Mahoney came in and got started. I was laid back on the reclined table but not all the way. I could have laid all the way back, but I didn’t. She gave me the play by play of what she was doing and I was so fascinated! She drew the lines and the margins (longer than I had realized 🙁 ), locally anesthetized the area and then began to cut. My skin opened up slowly and Josh was ready with the gauze to soak the blood. It was not too bad. He did a great job! Dr. Mahoney knifed around the interior of the opening cutting away the cancerous tissue and also taking out fat with it! (Yay!) I recognized what fat looked like from pictures on the internet. Gross! Olivia was ready with the specimen jar and Dr. pulled out a pinball-sized amount of cancerous tissue (with fat), and that’s when I said, “This is like a youtube video!” But inside my head, while fascinated, I thought, “Hey, wait! That’s MY leg!” After the tissue was out, she cauterized all around the inside, used 4 interior stitches (zip, zip, zip…), and 1 long exterior baseball stitch for the outside. BOOM! Done in about 15 minutes. Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh………..
Things ABSOLUTELY could have been worse! Just look up basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma (super aggressive) melanoma, or anything skin cancer-related on the internet and look on Instagram or anywhere else, and you will find story after story like mine and WORSE! Check this gal! While I’m bummed that I will have a 3″ scar on my inner thigh and divet on my nose from now on, there’s no point lamenting. The damage is done, and I will be visiting my dermatologist every six months now. My goal in sharing my story (may be TMI to some of you) is to encourage everyone to WEAR SUNSCREEN!!! REAPPLY over and over if you are sweating it off or in the pool or ocean. Wear protective clothing – hats, rash guards, linen tops and bottoms – whatever to cover your skin. I played outside, visited the beach and played tennis competitively summer after summer for years. I remember my nose peeling ALL SUMMER LONG even with sunblock on. Now, I’m not sure I will spend much time anymore even underneath an umbrella on a beach. The sand is so reflective, and I’ve noticed that even with sunblock with an SPF 30 applied that even after a couple of hours, my skin turns a little darker. Not sure what rays are coloring it, but I guess my skin is still not protected enough. Most damage done comes in early life, so that means the exposure I got when I was much younger is what will determine what is happening with skin NOW. I’m not scared. I know what to look for and am well-versed with having gone through this situation, and I want YOU to be, too. I want to spread awareness about sun protection and skin care! Look for any new dark spots, red spots, or moles that have changed in size or color. Call your dermatologist immediately and schedule and appointment. You young ones who need that “savage tan” will regret hours in the sun later in life, I promise! Wrinkles, spots and skin cancer is what you have to look forward to. Please choose protection! Healthy skin is the new sexy! Start to treasure YOUR skin!
Here I am 2 weeks out from my procedures! Stitches came out two weeks later and my forehead and nose are almost healed. Now, scars! They are stories of your life, but if you can avoid scars from skin cancer removal, then by ALL MEANS, DO! Wear PROTECTION!
Thanks to Advanced Dermatology and Dr. Mahoney and staff for taking such great care of me! I will see you in 6 months!
The best SUN PROTECTION TIPS from top dermatologists!
Natural Sun Care products here!
Cute beach cover-ups here!