D-Day

Well, surgery has been set for September 7, 2018, to have this skin cancer taken off my nose. I have affectionately named it Nelly (after that bitch Nelly Olson on Little House on the Prarie.) While I am relieved that it is going to be removed, I am nervous as hell that it is going to be larger than we all expected.

My ideal situation would be that they numb me up, take the first layer, study it under the microscope, and declare they got it all. The doctor stitches me up, and I am on my way. I guess I am going to know if they come to get me out of the waiting room and say “we need to do it again.” If that is the case, I know I am screwed. I am choosing to think positively and really hope they get it on the first pass.

My field office has been very supportive of me with this situation. Had a good conversation with my Special Agent in Charge and he put my fears at ease about having to possibly take some time off. I love my job and I am already feeling bad for leaving my office in a bind. But, it really helps to have a good supportive team behind me. I am blessed.

Of course, irony always has to rear its head. Sept 7th is the day my dad passed away 15 years ago. Maybe its a sign that he will be virtually holding my hand.

I honestly just want to get it over with. Three weeks from today. Tick Tock.

PS: Here is a site that I frequent for awesome recipes. Mel is a genius in the kitchen. Anyway, she just went through a MOH’s procedure on her nose. Her BCC is on the same side of her nose, same exact spot, and same exact size of mine. And she is as cute as can be about 8 months later, so I have lots of hope.

https://www.melskitchencafe.com/on-a-personal-note-what-happened-to-my-face/

There Just Isn’t Enough Time In The Day

I am fortunate that both my boys are visiting me for a few days. I miss these kids so much. The only thing that would make it better is if my daughter could be here too. However, she is floating on a ship in the deep blue sea. With some luck, I may be able to get them all home for Christmas.

I am trying to jam so much into these few days. I have taken half days for Mon-Wed, and we are trying to visit everyone that we can in such a short amount of time. On top of that, I am in college and trying to get three large papers written, and I have come to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough time in the day. I plan to soak up these last few hours I have with them because it will have to last the next four months.

When I had children at home, I would think about how there wasn’t enough time in the day with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and homework. I never believed in all my life that all three of my babies would be on the east coast and I would be on the west coast. What I would give to have them back home with me again.

An empty nest is not fun.

Trust Your Gut. Always.

Well, on day six of the waiting game, my doctor emailed me:

Your biopsy came back, and it is Basal Cell Carcinoma. I am going to refer you to the MOHS Clinic so they can take care of that for you.

Doctor

Have you ever heard bad news before and it was literally like being punched in the gut? Yeah, it was like that.

I have skin cancer.

There are three common skin cancers. In order, they are:

  1. Melanoma – Known to be fatal if not caught early
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma – spreads quickly; in rare cases, can be fatal
  3. Basal Cell Carcinoma – Almost never fatal; slow growing; rarely spreads

Of the three, I am very lucky it is Basal Cell Carcinoma. Thank God.

So now, here I am. I am currently waiting to hear from the MOHS clinic to get the party started.

Let me be clear. I am not a vain person. I am not a beauty queen. I am a 45-year-old woman with average looks, on the chunky side, I dress very plain, and I rarely wear makeup other than moisturizer. I would not consider myself ugly, but let’s face it, I am not going to win any beauty contests. I like tacos WAY too much to starve myself for the bikini segment.

With that being said, I don’t want to see my face carved up. I am familiar with my face. It’s like an old friend. I have been staring back at it for 45 years now. I have earned every one of those wrinkles, every imperfection. It makes me….me. To think that it could look vastly different for a significant amount of time is already making me self-conscious. Just having this biopsy scab on the side of my nose makes me self-conscious now. And I am fully aware that this carcinoma is in a tough spot of the nose because it involves the crease. That is where it gets tricky because they may need replacement cartilage if it extends into the outer portion of the nostril. I read they can take it from my ear. Like Mike Tyson. That’s kinda cool.

But, my husband brought up some very good points:

  1. I need to be grateful that Basal Cell Carcinoma is NOT fatal.
  2. It is slow growing.
  3. There is a very real chance that I may have just one stage of MOHS surgery and be done.
  4. I need to think positive.
  5. Screw what other people think.

I am a lucky woman to have such a positive, uplifting spouse. And he promised he will still love me even if I look like Sloth from the Goonies when this is all over. That’s true love right there.

And so I wait.

Tick tock said the clock…

Waiting Completely Sucks

After I got home, the bandaid came off. There is a good sized hole in my nose. I am reasonably sure the doctor used a jagged spoon for that biopsy. And its red, angry and really pissed off looking. And it hurts.

I start pouring over the internet looking for anything I can find on Basal Cell Carcinoma. I learn that if it’s on your face, they do a surgery called a MOHS Procedure. They numb the area with a local (like I had just had) and they take a thin layer of skin off. You are bandaged up and sent to the waiting room while a pathologist looks at the skin under a microscope to see if they got all the cancer cells. If they didn’t, they take you back and take a second more significant area of skin, bandage you up, send you to the waiting room and check it. Each one of those times is called a “stage.” Rinse and repeat until they get clear margins on the skin (no more cancer cells in the specimen.)

Okay, hold up. You are sent to the waiting room each time? YOU ARE AWAKE FOR THIS HELL?!?! These people are sadists!!!

After it is clear, the surgeon stitches it up. If its a significant area of skin removed and there isn’t enough skin to close it, then you are going to need a skin graft. That requires a plastic surgeon, and you will probably be put under for that part. And that may not take place the same day. You may have to come back another day. I am not kidding.

I then make the mistake of looking at pictures of this. I am horrified. Here is an example of a woman who has Basal Cell Carcinoma in almost the exact same place that is on my nose.

Nose

Picture #1 is the MOHS procedure. Picture #2 is with a forehead skin graft (called a forehead flap.) It stays like that until it’s created a blood flow to the hole its covering (usually about three weeks.) Picture #3 is after the graft has taken and the surgeon performs the magic. Picture #4 is the final result (typically about a year after the surgery.)

Of course, that’s the worst case scenario. I don’t even know if I even have Basal Cell Carcinoma. Maybe it is just eczema like I initially thought. Perhaps the doctor was wrong? Only the biopsy will tell. And I am a wreck while I am waiting for the results. I am hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. And my gut is going with the worst.

Why is the biopsy taking so LONG?!?!?

 

 

 

*Picture courtesy of Google Images*

The Second Time In Hell

Fast forward to July 2018. My nose is still acting up. Let me give you a little background about my nose. It’s not a bad nose, but it’s had its fair share of issues. I have broken it before (I was attacked by a toilet seat when I was throwing up. I threw the seat up too hard, and it bounced off the tank and back down on my nose. On my wedding day in 1992. Don’t ask; its a long story.) From that catastrophe, I ended up with a deviated septum and couldn’t breathe out the right side. Had surgery four years ago to finally fix that. Then two years ago, I had sinus surgery for chronic sinus infections. So the nose has been traumatized over the years. Now we have this thing on the left side.

So, I finally make it back to the dermatologist on Friday, July 27, 2018. The nice lady doctor is not there, and instead, I get a nice man doctor. He asks me what brings me there? I started to tell him about the spot on my nose, and he lowers down the special binocular glasses on his head and takes a look. I mention that it’s been bleeding for years. He pulls the glasses back up and says “THAT is NOT good.” He says he is going to have to biopsy it and I think “Awesome! He’s not going to burn me with that can of crap this time. Winning!” Instead, he pulls out this needle from hell and comes towards my face with it as he says “This will sting a little….” HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!?!?! I am literally wincing, which turns into a full-fledged scream. It feels like he is injecting sulphuric acid into my nostril! Imagine this scenario. I am yelling, he practically has me in a head-lock to hold my head still, and every part of my body below my neck is scrambling trying to get to the door to get the hell out of dodge. I am sure it was 30 seconds or so, but it might as well have been an hour because I was losing my mind, FAST… He kept apologizing, but all I heard in my head was “If I punch him, that needle is going to rip my nose open…” I honestly can’t tell you how badly that hurt.

Once I was numb, I could feel him pushing my nose around, but that was it. It was done in just a few minutes. By this time, I have tears streaming down my left eye and snot coming down my nose. HOT MESS. He announces he is finished and I look down and see tears, snot, and blood were dripping on my gown. My hands are shaking so bad as I try to get my glasses back on (I cannot see anything without them; I am blinder than a bat.) He puts something on it that stops the bleeding and a band-aid. He says “I have been a doctor for 30 years and that looks like Basal Cell Carcinoma, a skin cancer.”

Ever heard a record scratch and all of a sudden everything is quiet? Cancer? Like, skin cancer?!?!? It’s just dry flaky skin that keeps getting irritated! It cant be CANCER!

He says the biopsy will take about a week and he will let me know when it comes back. I literally RAN out of that room, through the waiting room, outside to my car. I look in my mirror, and I have a round band-aid on my nose, my face is red, my eyes are red, my nose is red, and I just stare at myself in the mirror. Cancer? Are you freaking kidding me?

A little family history. All four of my grandparents had cancer. Two of them died from lung cancer. One died from liver cancer. One had tongue cancer.  My father died from pancreatic cancer. And I know NOTHING about skin cancer. If there is one thing I am good at, it is research. I have my work cut out for me.

And I look like a complete dork with that round band-aid on my nose.

 

 

The Doctor Doesn’t Always Know Best…

So, I have this thing on my face. Well, technically, it’s on the left side of my nose in the crease where your nostril meets your nose. I have had it for a LONG time. At least three or more years now. It’s like dry, flaky skin and kind of red. I genuinely believe it’s eczema. I would scratch it off, slather some cream on it until it looked better, and rock on. Then, it would bleed if I touched it. Blowing my nose with a Kleenex would piss it off and get it going again. The flaky skin started looking more like a scab from bleeding all the time. I noticed it not long after I turned 40 and thought at the time “So, here is another thing going to crap after 40. It’s all downhill from here!” Figured, I should probably get it checked out.

So, in July 2016, I went to the dermatologist. I had never been to one before. She was very friendly and asked if I am concerned about any areas? Where do I begin? “So, I have this freckle here, this wrinkle here, this mole here, and oh yeah, I have this dry skin, a scabby spot here on my nose. What the heck is that? It seems to always bleed if it gets irritated.” She takes a look at it and says “Oh, that might be precancerous, but we can take care of that right now!” She grabs a stainless steel canister of something, turns around, aims it at my nose and fires it off. I was surprised for a second until the burning and stinging began. She explains that she was “freezing” it off. Lady, you are trying to burn my face off, and where the hell is the door cause this HURTS! She finally stops, I am whimpering, and she says “that should take care of it. It will blister and scab, but it should be fine after that.” She then does a shave biopsy of the mole on my right cheek and says she will email me the results in a couple of days. My nose BURNS like the fire of hell. So, I smile, thank her, and practically run out the door.

Two days later, she emails me that the mole on my right cheek was normal. My nose does precisely what she said. It blisters, scabs, and the scab falls off. Looks pretty good for a while. Not long after, its back to its old tricks bleeding and being flakey, so I just deal with it. It’s unsightly, so I continue to use cream to moisturize the area and try to hide it the best I can. It sure beat the hell out of that lady burning me again because as we all know THAT didn’t work.

Welcome

For years, my mother and my father have told me that I should write a book. It would make people laugh, they’d say. Like a modern-day Erma Bombeck (if you know who that is, you can probably figure out that I am not wearing skinny jeans with a thong hanging out the back; I also think Kim Kardashian is a disgusting piece of trash. Read: I am not 20 years old).

Well, this is the next best thing. A blog.

Oh, the world of blogging. I have read a few. I never really had any interest in blogging. I mean, it’s just my life. Who would want to learn about an ordinary woman’s life? But as time has gone on, I have found that my life is actually pretty funny. Everyday things become a catalyst for a lot of laughter. I have said, out loud, more than once, “Holy hell, I can’t believe that actually happened! Is there a hidden camera somewhere?” I also often start sentences with “You know I am going to hell, right?” I plan to offer pearls of wisdom, interspersed with randomness and a splash of laughter as the garnish. Should be fun.

So, again, welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit.