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The Good, The Bad… and the (Temporarily) Ugly

It’s the day after my surgery to remove those pesky cells from my face, which from here on out shall be referred to as “BCCs” because we’re not huge fans of that other C word. Though the process went about as expected and is one I’m finding is a story shared by far too many people, there were a few twists and turns, as I’ll detail below…

The Good

  • The best of the good news is that my surgeon believes he removed all of those BCCs, which means I should be part of that 99% for whom Moh’s surgery “cures” the problem… at least for this particular occurrence (more on that in the next section).
  • Masquerade party anyone? Thanks to my friend Laura, I'm all set...

    Masquerade party anyone? Thanks to my friend Laura, I’m all set…

    Dr. Jared Lund and the rest of the crew at the Billings Clinic Dermatology Center were extremely friendly, funny and supportive, which made the day as close to enjoyable as is humanly possible. So to them, a huge THANK YOU 🙂

  • The entire process only took about three hours, a far cry from what it could have been, especially considering they had a patient the day before that didn’t get finished until after 11 pm.
  • The worst of the damage was on the side of the spot opposite my eye … a HUGE relief.
  • I am continually reminded that I have a supportive hubby and family and some very good friends. From chauffeuring and coddling to encouraging messages to special deliveries to custom cover-ups to a day-long play date for my girls, I couldn’t ask for a better network and for that I am extremely grateful. THANK YOU … you know who you are 🙂
  • I am fortunate to be dealing with this during a time when I have great health insurance, a flexible employer and the option to take a few days to lie low and simply relax.

The Bad

  • Nearly the first words out of the surgeon’s mouth were “that’s a big tumor” and his belief that I’d had it for at least a year, when we had previously guessed just six months or so. That resulted in a deeper wound than I had initially hoped for, as well as the necessity for a skin graft to help reconstruct the area, which means I now have two areas in need of healing… the original site as well as the spot behind my ear from which the “donor skin” was taken.
  • I now have a lovely bandage on the side of my nose that I have to somehow keep dry for a week (ie. no showers and challenging hair washing) and which interferes with my vision a bit, not to mention tends to poke me in the eye if I don’t keep the edge taped down. I can live with it… but I will be very, very happy to have it gone in a week when I get all those stitches removed.
  • Dr. Lund told me that I am very young to be dealing with this already, with most people “lucky” enough to avoid it until their 60s or later. As a result, he said he is fairly certain I’ll be back at some point with another BCC… hopefully not in the same spot but another occurrence, nonetheless. This also means I am at a higher risk for those other, far more serious, types of skin cancer. As a result, I have to be hyper-vigilant about protecting myself… daily moisturizer containing sunscreen plus regular sunscreen if I’m going to be in the sun for more than a few minutes, as well as a big hat to avoid direct sun. (Ugh… I HATE wearing hats.) Probably good advice for all of us…

… and the (Temporarily) Ugly

  • Though hopefully better and less scarring in the long run, the healing process for the graft is not going to be a pretty one and it won’t be fast, likely taking several months at a minimum. Fun stuff like “pincushioning” and bumps and bruising and “tissue resembling a dried up piece of pepperoni on your face” were described in the “what to expect” discussion… just what a girl wants to hear when talking about her  appearance, ya know?
  • Let’s just say me+extended non-showering+ban on makeup for a time is not exactly my preferred mode of presentation to the world.

I wish my story were unique, not because I want to be special but because the fact that it is not means there are many others who have to deal with the same thing.

The doctors tell me this is a direct result of UV damage combined with the fair skin I inherited, so I guess the moral of the story is this… use your sunscreen and stay out of those tanning beds, especially if you have fair skin like me. The advice seems simple enough but apparently it’s not or it wouldn’t be such a common affliction. Even more frustrating is this… I’ve avoided the sun for years and my stint in the tanning beds lasted only about a month in high school, and still, I am one of the youngest patients my surgeon has seen with this problem. Go figure.

Guess it’s time to start shopping for a hat…

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