The following is Cissy’s story. Many of you might find yourselves in this same predicament. But sharing what you are going through while battling cancer can help relieve many of the unknowns associated with fighting this dreaded disease. And this can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Thank you, Cissy. I am proud to call you a friend and admire your courage.
“I’ve debated with myself for the last 24 hours or so about whether or not to post this for fear of sounding preachy. I’m still not 100% comfortable with the idea, but I’m going to post anyway in the hopes that I can help someone. This isn’t a prayer request, and it’s not a request for attention. My desire is for this to be a cautionary tale.
“I recently had a growth removed from my face that turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma (a non-aggressive, slow growing, rarely terminal skin cancer). My dermatologist estimates it is a result of sun exposure from 25-30 years ago. I was a silly teenager then who slathered myself with baby oil and laid in the sun for hours with girlfriends while we chatted, read magazines, and listened to music. It’s what we did in the 80s.
“It was just a tiny pink little dot that looked like a zit. Except it never went away, and it bled profusely every time I tried to pop it. I knew it wasn’t melanoma, so I didn’t take it all that seriously. I eventually self-diagnosed myself with BCC, but I took my sweet time getting to a dermatologist. I’d always heard that BCC was harmless and easy to get rid of since it stays on the surface of the skin. Nothing to worry about.
“But here’s what I’ve learned in the past 3 weeks: BCC grows “roots” if you let it sit there too long. It grows slowly, but it does grow. It invades the inner layers of your skin. And the only way to get it all out is by having a 3-6 hour labor intensive procedure called Mohs surgery. While you’re awake, a specially trained dermatologist keeps removing layers of skin until the roots are gone. Often times, you’re left with a wound that’s so large, that it can’t be closed with stitches. You need reconstructive surgery by a plastic surgeon.
“Fortunately, my BCC was eradicated after 2 swoops with the scalpel. The cancer is now no longer a factor in anyway. For that, I’m extremely grateful.
“However, I was left with a wound on the left side of my face that was bigger than a quarter, and it was about 1/4″ deep—too big for stitches. The plastic surgeon had to make incisions under my eye and in the side of my nose, and fold the flaps of skin together in order to cover the wound. The left side of my face is bruised and swollen, and I’m not sure how visible my scars will be. I’m not a vain person, but the thought of facial scars do make me feel a bit anxious. As you can see, the surgeon did a great job of making incisions along the natural folds and curves of my face so that most of the scarring will be camouflaged. If I do end up with scars, I like to think that I’ll look like a badass and people will simply assume that I was in a knife fight. And won.
“So my points are these:
1) There is NO SUCH THING as “just” basal cell carcinoma. If you see something new and funky on your skin—no matter how small and undramatic—-stop what you’re doing, pick up the phone, and make an appointment with your dermatologist!
2) And for the love of God, start wearing sunscreen daily. Even if it’s cloudy. Even if you expect to be covered for most of the day. Wear it. I can’t do anything about the sun damage from my youth, but I can prevent further damage. I now put it on my face, chest, and hands every morning. And I carry my Yankees cap in my purse.
3) Slather your children and grandchildren with sunscreen today so that they’re not having holes cut in their faces in 25 years.
“To be clear, I am perfectly fine. I’ll get my stitches out on Tuesday, and in another month, my face should be completely healed. The skin cancer is completely gone, and no follow up treatments are needed. It’s all good.”
If you would like to share your story about battling cancer, please leave your story in the message section of CONTACT at my website davidyatesauthor.com and how to contact you.