First, let me apologize for the creepy intense-stare picture. There’s a story behind it, but that’s not the point.
See that spot by my eye? The one inside the circle? If you were to guess that it was cancer, you would be absolutely correct. Would I ever have guessed that it was cancer? Well, this picture was taken two years ago and I thought it was just a little spot–maybe a little wart or a raised mole. It wasn’t until dear Scott nagged me into going to see a dermatologist, two days before I had my baby, that the area was biopsied and I found out that I have a Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is a benign cancer (yay!) and it is the most common type of skin cancer. It affects a lot of people; chances are if you ask around you’ll discover all sorts of folks who have had a spot or two removed or know someone who has. And if you have Basal Cell Carcinoma, the chances of you having another spot are great. As far as I’ve been able to research, this type of cancer is not life-threatening, though left untreated it can become disfiguring as the cancer roots grow deeper and deeper–sometimes even into the bone.
I have fair skin and have had my share of sunburns throughout my 32 years. Bad sunburns. I am now pretty religious about applying sunscreen if I’m going to be out in the sun for periods of time, but I don’t think about the little things like a 30 minute jog or taking my daughter to the park. When I went to see a surgeon about surgery, she told me that this is a very common spot on the face for Basal Cell Carcinoma…because of driving! And sure enough if I didn’t spend two hours of my day with my left eye facing the sun. (Also interesting, she said she sees these spots on older women but on the right side of the nose from riding passenger). But really I figured I would have had at least another decade before I needed to worry about things like skin cancer.
And I definitely didn’t want to have to worry about such things right after having a baby. But here we are.
Today I am having a procedure called Mohs to remove the cancer. The procedure is highly effective in removing all of the Basal Cell roots so that the cancer doesn’t return. Unfortunately it’s difficult to know just how large an area is affected and this is the part that frightens me the most. The spot in the picture has grown a little in the past two years and I don’t even want to think about what parts of my eye could be affected by the cancer. Hopefully it’s as simple and small as the area that was biopsied.
After the Mohs, I will go from the dermatologists office to a surgical center where a plastic surgeon will reconstruct the area by my eye–most likely using a skin graft from my other eyelid. This is the scary part as I have no idea how drastic the surgery will be, I’ll be put under general anesthetic, and the recovery period is two weeks. I’ve been instructed not to bend over or lift anything more than five pounds for two weeks. Yes, my two month-old baby is ten pounds. I’ve been quite upset about the entire situation, but I’m grateful that I learned I have cancer before it got out of control. And certainly now I know what to look for in the future.
So do me a favor, yes? Well, besides crossing your fingers that the Basal Cell area is minimal, please wear your sunscreen and protect yourself!