is was just below my hair line behind my ear. It had been there for years, for as long as I can remember. One morning as I was looking in the mirror I turned my head just right and had this sick feeling come across me. It jumped out at me. I kept looking at it all day, waiting on Steve to get home and of course this was one of those days he called and said, I’ll be late tonight! I didn’t hit him with it when he came in but after he had showered, we had dinner and the kitchen was clean I asked him to take a look at my neck. He asked what he was looking at/for and I said just look. He immediately noticed it too. It had changed. It was larger. It was different colors. The edges were uneven. It was as though it changed overnight. I know it didn’t but it was enough that I noticed it. He asked when my appointment was and it was still two weeks away. Now we wait. This was the longest two weeks in my life or I thought it was. The day finally came and after introductions and a few questions to get my history, Dr. P said let me take a look. He started looking me over from head to toe not saying a lot, but as he finished up he looked at me and said you have lots of precancerous spots! Then he started to point to a few of them. He didn’t have to show me – I knew what they were from several years ago, but what I didn’t know until he shined his “special” light on my hands was that I was covered and in various stages. Several of them were already at the cancer stage but were treatable. We went over my options and he suggested since I had used a chemo cream before we go that route but in a strength 10 times stronger. It is what he used himself and felt it would work.
Bet you are wondering what happened to the mole, right? He questioned me about the mole and I told him I was concerned as it had recently changed. At first he wasn’t as concerned, but he continued to look at it and said we need to biopsy that just to make sure while reassuring me he didn’t think I had anything to worry about. So I put on my big girl panties, grinded my teeth, and held my breath as he worked around this area that was slightly larger than a pencil eraser. He asked for another instrument and said I think we need to remove all of this today and put a rush on it for pathology. At this point the nurse patted my leg and said just take in a slow deep breath, he’s almost finished. I broke out in a hot flash. Steve starts fanning me with a magazine with one hand and praying I didn’t cause him to loose circulation in the other one. It only took a few minutes, but it seemed like forever and a day. Dr. P said he would see me in three months unless the biopsy showed anything and they would call me sometime later the next week. The next morning I was upstairs and my phone rings – I look at the caller ID and my heart stops, my stomach starts to turn flip flops and I start shaking. I answered and a very sweet voice on the other end asked if I was where I could talk. You know at that point you are going to hear something you don’t want to hear. I started down stairs and the next thing I know I am sitting about halfway down the staircase thinking I need to go downstairs and get a paper and pen. All I could think about as I took those last 10 or so steps down was, he didn’t expect the pathology to come back until the next week and really thought there was nothing to worry about. As the nurse started talking I realized it was not good, but the way she talked and handled it made hearing the news just a little easier. The report from the pathology had come back and it showed a very early stage of melanoma. The cells were rapidly changing and even though my doctor had removed the mole during the biopsy, the margins were still showing very active growing melanoma cells and we needed to go back in to excise a larger area to make sure we had clear margins.
It has been almost 14 years since I had my first skin cancer removed. Since then several more removed and years of using a low dose chemotherapy cream with visits to a dermatologist every six months for checks. Even though I put off making my last appointment for almost a year and a half, I feel very lucky I noticed the change that had taken place and had already made the appointment due to a few places that would not heal. I guess in the back of my mind I knew what could happen, and had been lucky as some would say, but my luck ran out but not too late when it comes to cancer. There I said it – the dreaded word – CANCER!
Four Five things I want you to take from this if you will.
- Please use sunscreen and protect your skin.
- Find a good dermatologist and have your skin checked yearly or as he/she recommends.
- Check your own skin regularly, at least once a month.
- Know your families medical history.
- Talk to your children about taking care of their skin now, not in 20 or 30 years when they have problems.
The earlier moles and precancerous lesions are caught the less likely they will grow and be untreatable.
Above is a close up of my upper chest. I still can’t believe I am showing these photos online. Now you see why I wanted you to see the red blotchiness – it is my skin exfoliating from the chemo cream. Following the doctor’s visit I started treatment on my hands because we were leaving the next week for Arkansas and I didn’t want my face to be all red and blotchy, dry and itchy and extra sensitive to the sun. Due to some other health problems I decided to just spot treat some on my face until a few days ago. Now for the last 7 days I have been using the chemo cream twice daily all over my face, neck, upper chest and the back of my hands, and doing spot treatments to some on my legs. My skin has burned, itched, gotten blotchy and super sensitive. As the cream works you can see the spots more and more.
I have tried to see the bright side of this too.
- It was caught early!!!
- My new best friend is my new dermatologist!
- After using the chemo cream and your skin has gone through all the stages and finally peeled off – your skin looks and feels like a new baby’s butt – soft and smooth!