Friday, July 11, 2008

What I did on my Summer Vacation

I wish I could say, "I've been on a cruise," or "on a deserted island," or even "watching Soaps and eating Bon-Bons". ANY of those would have been more acceptable and easier to believe. Except for me I suppose.

Mid-May my Dh and I went to the Sonoran Desert Museum for a free skin check since our state is #1 for skin cancer. I suspected my Dh would have cause for concern, he has numerous moles on his back. I never, never, EVER suspected I would be the cause of our worry.

Sure, I am a blue-eyed, fair-skined gal..who spent a goodly amount of her teenage years in the sun. Slathered with Baby Oil, NEVER with SUN-SCREEN, isn't that why you laid out there for hours in the first place. Not to mention I only could attain a dusty shade of tan, but was really good at the burn-and-peel mode.

The Physician at the free skin check said I had a spot at my hairline that was of some concern. I just thought it was just an ugly bump. Never itched, changed color or size, etc. You know, all those they tell you to watch for.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer.[1] It can be destructive and disfiguring. The risk of developing BCC is increased for individuals with a family history of the disease and with a high cumulative exposure to UV light via sunlight[1].Treatment is with surgery, mohs surgery, topical chemotherapy, X-ray, cryosurgery, or photodynamic therapy. It is rarely life-threatening but, if left untreated, can be disfiguring, cause bleeding, and produce local destruction (e.g., eye, ear, nose, lip). As with squamous cell carcinoma, the incidence of basal cell carcinoma rises sharply with immunosuppression and in patients with inherited defects in DNA repair.[2]Basal cell skin cancer almost never spreads; however, large and longstanding tumours may metastasize into regional lymph nodes and surrounding areas such as nearby tissues and bone.

I followed up with his office and "gave" a sample for biopsy. Moh's Micrographic Surgery was ordered, and below is my "after". Yeah, shorty hairs and all. I had to change my part for the grow-back, and that scar will all but be hidden.

While I was in for #1 Surgery, the surgeon took a "sample" of a spot he suspected, but the Dr. didn't spot. Oh joy, #2 surgery was scheduled, and he removed about the size of a dime. Gave me a new smile line. *ahem*

#2 surgery performed, and the surgeon says he wants another sample in another spot of my forehead. Oh joy, #3 surgery was scheduled for a squamous cell carcinoma. This pic is a before. The after was about the size of another dime, I had it done yesterday.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common cancer of the skin (after basal cell carcinoma but more common than melanoma). It usually occurs in areas exposed to the sun, and can generally be treated by excision only. Sunlight exposure and immunosuppression are risk factors for SCC of the skin. The risk of metastasis is larger than with basal cell carcinoma.

Mohs Surgery, created by a general surgeon, Dr. Fredrick E. Mohs, is microscopically controlled surgery that is highly effective for common types of skin cancer, with a cure rate cited between 97 to 99% for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, and for squamous cell carcinoma. It has been used in the removal of melanoma-in-situ, but this is an unproven treatment. Because the Mohs procedure is micrographically controlled, it provides precise removal of the cancerous tissue, while healthy tissue is spared. Mohs surgery is relatively expensive when compared to other surgical modalities. However, in anatomically important areas (eyelid, nose, lips), tissue sparing and low recurrence rate makes it a procedure of choice by many physicians.

So that spot you have? You know which one I mean, yeah, THAT one. Go get it checked. I seriously didn't have a clue, I caught them very early but still got sizable scars and some doozy of headaches as a recovery present. It could have been SO much worse. I have otherwise healthy skin, and I'm still young. I've used sunscreen for the last 10 years and hopefully won't have many more issues. I'm on 6 month check-ups for the next 5 years, not bad when you consider the options or alternatives!!!

I'm doing fine. Thanks to you who have asked. Just got the wind knocked out of my sails a bit.

I'm back! You're stuck with me, and I'll still be a little sporadic in posting. I just do the best I can!


(definitions courtesy of Wikipedia)


Tanya Brown said...

My goodness! It sounds like none of these fit the "standard" profile for skin cancer. Well, traumatic though it must have been, I'm glad these have been found and zapped. I hope all else is going well.

Beth said...

oh my! I know you would have enjoyed a true vacation better...BUT, in the long run, glad to have this checked out and taken CARE of!I will be sure to ask at my next doc appt (which is SOON)

Dorothy said...

Good Lord woman, put a hat on! And next summer? Do something fun. Seriously. (Glad your still among the vertical.)

nicolette said...

Goodness gracious... some story! It feels scary that being aware of the ‘normal’ signs of possible cancer might not be enough.

Thanks for warning us!

Take care, I hope you’ll be able to enjoy future sunshine though. With a big hat on, long sleeves and pants and lots of sun-screen.

In Holland we have had an experiment some years ago which was called the freckle-buss. The buss drove along our beaches and you could have your skin checked.

Anonymous said...

I already started wondering where you had been the last couple of weeks but I never could imagine this happening to you! Oh man you cared me by telling that the usual signs are not enough to detect skincancer! I hope you recover soon and that I can read many more of your blogs in the future!
hugs to you my friend.
Winda aka the Dutch Quilter
(ps... maybe something to cheer you up??? I am expecting a little bundle of joy early next year! )


andsewitis Holly said...

I can sympathize with you because I've had numerous BCC removed... also from my temple area... lots of scars... so I *know*. I usually wear Sun Precautions clothing when I plan on being out during the day plus the sunblock etc. I'm glad you took advantage of the free test and caught it early. That's the key to a long happy life :)

Erika said...

battle scars are sexxxy

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to the land of Blog. Sorry to hear about the carcinomae, but good on ya for getting it looked at NOW. I too am fair-skinned and blue-eyed, and I slathered on the baby oil--with Iodine, I don't know what that was about--so far no mysterious spots, but I have serious rosacea that will scare the knickers off you if you see me without makeup. I'm going in for laser treatments in the fall. (I said this last year and the year before that.)

Leah S said...

Whew! Scary stuff to think and face... but I'm glad the outcome hasn't been devastating. Just "sexxxy battle scars". ;) Sorry, Erika's line cracked me up. :D

Tanya said...

Wow. I'm sorry, I haven't been keeping up with posts. I hadn't realized what an experience you've been having! Makes me think about using the sun screen a little more religiously. I dislike the oiliness and have ignored it for the past couple weeks.

Hope your healing will go well and you'll be well protected in the sun.

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Sounds like I should have been sending these groovy new silicone dressings over that my daughter is using to mimimise her scarring. Hope you have been referred to something like that.
Poor thing, i share your colouring and a lot of your concerns-same lifestyle and environment, also both parents have had a heap off,
look after yourself, Tracey

Jane Ann said...

My Fair Husband was married to a dark-skinned sun worshipper. Now he has regular appointments with the dermatologist and standing orders to "just take off the top layers" (whatever the Medicare max is per treatment). It is never-ending.

Alarmingly, they took their tow-haired daughter on the houseboat, swimming pool, etc., and at age 27 she had a malignant melanoma removed--from her ribcage of all places, but they can even show up on the sole of the foot. (She became mine at age 13 and I begged her for years to stop trying to tan and to put on sunscreen.) Stay with it and stay on your girls. My own two listened to me and they have lovely skin.

The Calico Quilter said...

I am so sorry so hear about your health issues. I want to tell you that it is brave of you to talk about this and show the photos of your surgery aftermaths. Thank you for that - it is a real wake-up call for we fair-skinned types. I have not been as conscientious about sunblock as I should, but I promise I will faithfullly apply it from now on. (I have enough of a problem as is, but with my medication making me more sun-sensitive, it is a necessity.) I hope everything heals and your problems are over.