My scare with CANCER
Who would of thought?
I pride myself in the fact that I have taken care of my health. I don't smoke, rarely drink, exercise and eat healthy. As as a child I watched my mother struggle with breast cancer then colon cancer and finally skin cancer. I knew that I wanted something different and was not going to have her lifestyle and make the same choices. I wanted a healthy life and chose to not follow in her foot steps.
Yet lo and behold the Universe has other plans for us. The one thing I have a lot of is sun exposure. I work with horses of course I'm going to be outside for long days. I also garden, do landscaping and generally love the great outdoors. So be fair haired, fair eyes and fair skin are not conducive to being outside for those long time periods, well at least not without lots of protection.
Yes the dreaded sunscreen. I really never got the hang of using it as a child because it really was not in use then. I was a lifeguard at my family's campground and was out there at least 12 hours a day in the blazing sun. And did I use sunscreen? Well NO. I was lathered up in Hawaiian Tropic oil. Smelled like coconuts and was greasy as a pig.
I loved the sun when I was a kid. I loved the water too. Beaches, oceans, lakes, streams, creeks, heck puddles all found me in the sun and wet. Not now though. I have now found myself buried under large hats, sleeved shirts, umbrellas and almost anything that will shade me since finding one small dot on the back of my neck last fall.
It was the texture of the skin that I noticed first. It just "felt" different. I had someone look at it where they replied "it's nothing". Yet I noticed that I would itch it occasionally. Well as the time progressed I would notice a tiny drop of blood on my pillow. Never could figure out where that came from. Was I itching in my sleep?
Once again had a friend look at it and my own daughter. My daughter started nagging me to have it looked at "just in case". Am I glad she got on to me cause I might still have avoided the topic all together. So I made the appointment with the dermatologist to look at it.
They took a small skin sample and sent it off to be examined by a pathologist. Obviously something alerted them too or they would have just burned it like they did two other sites that seemed to worry me also.
Well I got the phone call that this was CANCER. The dreaded word that we all have heard of and we fear. It took two more phone calls for me to really take in this information. I had know idea what type it was or what we would do about it since I couldn't really hear and take in this shocking news.
I had what was call Basal Cell Carcinoma. It is the least aggressive form of skin cancer I am now learning. So a procedure called "MOHS" was scheduled for the following month. I now wanted this thing out now since it so scared me but was told I needed to wait.
I went in on a Monday morning at 8 am for this MOHS procedure. What they do is start cutting away small thin layers and examining them under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells present. If there are they take another sample and repeat the process until they get all of it and clean edges.
I was told that skin cancer is soft and mushy and they scraped mine out like a melon with a melon baller, lol. What was different was that mine was not deep but wide. It was like it traveled across the back of my neck. It took 22 stitches to close me up and left a large place to remind me of just what the sun can do to a fair haired girl.
Keeping my ponytail up all those years in my ball cap and not applying sunscreen to the back of my neck is what caused all this. Needless to say I now have 2 different sunscreens I use to protect myself. One specifically for my face and one for my body. They now make a translucent zinc that disappears when applied. Remember the zinc oxide applied to your nose that stayed white? Not anymore. This stuff is rubbed in and you don't look so hideous when going in public.
I also drive a convertible and apply it to my skin before going out to run errands all day in my little miata "Lucy". I try to be careful now and plan on continuing this lifestyle for good. I had an entire body scan while there at the doctors office just in case there were any other strange spots I had missed. There were none, thank God.
My advice to others would be please don't ignore that spot or the nagging feeling that something is not right. I really did have a funny feeling about the spot but was too afraid to go in until forced by my daughters concern. I am so glad she nagged me but many don't have a loved one to do just that. Go in and get yourself check if there is a concern. It could save your life. They closed me up and sent me home to return in 3 months for a follow up visit, just in case.
Use your sunscreen and research the ingredients. Zinc is the only ingredient that will block the sun if used. Be safe.
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