Saturday, February 16, 2013

by any other name, it is still skin cancer

Basal cell carcinoma.  Also known as skin cancer, it appeared on my left hand years ago, a tiny reddish spot near my wrist.  It was barely visible, and I hardly paid it any notice, until the past year or so when it started growing in size.  I'd look at it from time to time and think I needed to mention it to the doctor.  But since I rarely went to the doctor, I would always forget to mention it.

Until a few months ago when I finally did mention it and he looked at it.  Then pronounced the fateful words.

"I think it may be a basal cell carcinoma.  Let's send you to a dermatologist to have it taken off."

And so I found a dermatologist, who took a biopsy, and called me a few days later to tell me that it was indeed a BCC and that she was sending me upstairs in the clinic to the dermatology surgeon, so that I would have a linear scar instead of a big white flat scar.

What I didn't realize at the time is that one small skin cancer makes a very large incision scar.  Micrographic surgery will give me a 99% chance of cure and not having to go through this again.  The scar and its size doesn't bother me.  I am not a vain person after all.  I just wanted it gone and to stay gone.

What I do chafe about is the fact that I have to steri strip it for a month and not bend the wrist too far for a couple months at least, so that the incision has time to heal.  Otherwise it might dehisce and have to be resutured.  I don't like the fact that I have to stop and think when I do something to make sure I don't bend my wrist too far.  It slows me down and makes me have to pay attention to a part of my body I never pay any attention to, because I just expect it to do what I want it to do without fuss or muss.  I do not make a very patient patient, but I am trying to be.  To follow doctor's orders as I have urged so many people to do over the years is difficult when I want to just be done with this whole episode.

Two things I have learned from this experience.
1.  Tanning and overexposure to sun can take years to manifest itself as a skin cancer.
2.  The earlier you seek treatment, the less drastic the treatment will be.  Had I gone to the dermatologist years ago, the scar might not be an inch long now.

Early detection is the key to successful treatment.

Have you looked at your skin lately?  

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

6 comments:

  1. Continue to heal and take care of yourself, my friend!

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    1. Thank you Shelly! I appreciate the kind words!

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  2. I wish I couldn't say 'been there, done that,' but I can. Mine was on the side of my nose - a chunk of which was removed. So they took a bit of my left cheek over to cover it. I wish it had been on my butt instead. If you look at my picture (now knowing this), you can see there is no facial crease on the left side of he nose down to the corner of my mouth. It was stretched to cover what was moved to my nose. So my face isn't quite symmetrical anymore, but, hey, I'm alive to tell the story.

    I'm glad you had it taken care of. Scars fade.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that Thom. You are right, scars fade, and I have never had much vanity anyway...it just gets in the way of life. :D I am glad you had yours taken care of, and I am grateful this is one of the most common and treatable types of cancer.

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  3. I too wear a Mohs scar on my shin from a squamous cell removal 2 years ago this week. I had to sit with my leg elevated in a compression bandage for a week, then a waterproof bandage for another 2 weeks. But a 2" scar beats the alternative. Heal well and be thankful it is done. I have my full body check on Monday.

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    1. Good luck with that check Fran! And I feel better after reading these comments and knowing I am not the only one dealing with this. The limited range of motion in my left hand is all that really bothers me. I've forgotten a couple of times and lifted more weight than I am supposed to, and bent the wrist farther than I am supposed to. Slows me down a bit to have to stop and think before I do something, but hey, it's better than not getting rid of it... :D

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