Show-and-tell is my love language
Last week, I had surgery to remove a small amount of basal cell carcinoma from my face. Not my favorite experience in the world, I must say! But not terrible, either. I shared the adventure on Instagram Stories and saved it in a highlight on my profile, and I’ve poured all those slides into a gallery at the bottom of this post.
Short version: I’ve had a small red patch on my nose for a while; I asked a doctor about it 18 months ago and he said it was just a pigmentation change, nothing to worry about; he was wrong. In November I noticed the patch was a bit bigger and it had begun flaking. I asked my new primary care doctor about it, and she too didn’t think it was likely to be anything worrisome, but she referred me to a dermatologist just to be sure. Good thing! He did a biopsy and it turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. That’s the better kind of skin cancer—it doesn’t metastasize—but you still need to have it removed. The most common procedure is called Mohs surgery and it’s a trip! I had it done last Thursday. The surgeon removed a disk of skin from my nose, checked it for clean margins, took another slice, and whew, that was enough to get it all. Sometimes it takes several more rounds to get that clean margin.
Then he did the repair, which is a bananas process! He made a series of small zigzagging cuts all the way up my nose and then shifted the skin down a notch so that the bottom zag covered the surgical hole. Then he stitched me up. I’m on day five now, with stitches running the entire length of my nose. I spent the weekend swollen and bruised, but today the swelling is almost gone and my black eye is yellow. 😉
I’ll have a scar right down the side of my nose for a while but Mohs scars fade to nearly invisible over time. (Could be months or a year, I’ve heard conflicting accounts.) I’m super curious to know what my nose will look like when the dust settles, but for now I’m amazed at how well it’s already healing (even if things look a bit lopsided at the moment), and I’m glad to be cancer-free once more. Sheesh.
(No, really! That’s the short version!)
Instagram Stories version:
Here’s to cancer-free forevermore! xo
On February 25, 2020 at 4:58 am
Chris ODonnell says:
Glad it was as “nothing” as any cancer can be! But you will need a more exciting story for the scar. Maybe something involving a sword fight. And pirates.
On February 25, 2020 at 11:16 am
Ooh, I second the pirates!
Here’s to being cancer free forever.
On February 25, 2020 at 11:46 am
So happy that your skin cancer isn’t the worst type. And happy, too, that you’re handling it with so much curiosity and good humor. But, I am SO CRINGING over the slices and the stitches–holy crap, yikes. Ouch. Prayers for continued recovery and a cancer-free future. ♥
On February 25, 2020 at 2:36 pm
My dad had the same procedure years ago! You are much luckier than he was, to have “only” two slices…I recall they had to take part of his nostril off! He joked that his nose was so big, he had plenty to spare. Your surgeon did a great job, and you’ve got such a positive attitude. Thanks for raising awareness of basal-cell carcinoma.
On February 26, 2020 at 4:54 am
Wendi Gratz says:
I had the same procedure a couple of years ago – minus the stitches. He scooped a pea-sized bit out (he showed me the tool – it looked exactly like a razor-sharp melon-baller) and gave me the option for no stitches or the zigzag reconstruction you got. He said that people like me (who tend to get very thick, ropy scars) can often get away with almost no scarring if we opt for no stitches – but you have to wash the wound multiple times a day and keep it always moist (fill the “pit” with petroleum jelly and rebandage) for several weeks, until it grows closed. He made it super clear that it would be kind of horrifying and there’s no shame in not being ok with seeing/touching that wound. I’m not very squeamish so I decided to give it a try – and he was right. It was not easy. The first few times I had to wash it really made my stomach churn. But it worked! You can see a very tiny trace of a scar if you look really closely – and now I have a whole new regime for wound care.
On March 3, 2020 at 7:16 am
Kim Huitt says:
My chiropractor had a similar procedure. Amazing how involved and deep they have to go and so glad it can be done. Hope you’re healing up nicely. Can barely notice the scar on my chiropractor’s face now that it has been about a year. He advises everyone to always get things checked out if you feel something is not feeling right (intuition).
On March 11, 2020 at 12:19 pm