Right off the bat, I want to say this new cancer is nothing to worry about. It is, or was, merely a pesky skin cancerous growth. And as skin cancers go, it was merely of the basal cell carcinoma variety. Basically a nuisance, a low on the totem pole sort of cancer. But still, it’s another thing to worry about. It’s another dart thrown by cancer that literally hit the bull’s eye, my face, and it might not be a serious sort of cancer, but nonetheless it is another cancer, another scar and yet another specialist to add to my ever lengthening list of medical specialists. Ugh…
I even hesitated to write/share this post because it’s not a big deal. Even the nurse at my new dermatologist’s office said, “Well, if you’re going to get a cancer, this (basal cell, not talking about melanoma!) is the kind to get.”
Where have we heard that before?
But in this case, it’s probably true.
And then she went on to ask (I’m sure she regretted asking), “Have you ever had any other cancer?”
Let’s just say, the conversation took a downturn and there was that look of, oh you poor thing, in her eyes.
Have you seen that look?
But that is a post for another day.
I decided I would share about my skin cancer, even if it is/was only basal cell carcinoma because it is important. It does matter. It might not be life threatening, but it can be serious over time if left untreated.
There are three kinds of skin cancers:
As a person who is BRCA2+, I am at higher risk for any or all of these I’m told. And now that I’ve had one, the odds for more occurrences rises. Click on the above links to learn more about the three kinds of skin cancers. I’ve certainly learned a lot about all three of late.
Again, if basal cell cancers are not treated, or removed, they keep growing and over time, this can create problems. Eventually, the tumors can potentially become embedded in places they don’t belong, damage nerves and/or bone, interfere with vision (a concern in my case), become ulcerated or infected and of course, just get uglier and uglier to look at. The “upside” is that basal cell cancers very rarely metastasize or spread to other areas of the body. My particular cancer was located on the very delicate skin under my eye, which btw, made no sense as this area has been more consistently covered (by sunglasses) through the years more than other areas of my face. So go figure.
At my last oncology appointment, my oncologist and I discussed a different spot on my nose and he suggested I see a dermatologist to get it checked out. Turns out, that spot was fine. This other one, not so much.
So you just never know. When in doubt, get checked out.
Bottom line – check your skin regularly. Have your partner (if you have one) do it too. Be sure your primary care physician examines your skin at your physicals as well. Sometimes this gets missed or bypassed because everybody’s in a hurry and it’s one more potentially embarrassing exam. And if you’re brca+ like me, I would suggest seeing a dermatologist for a comprehensive skin exam and see what she or he recommends for followup. I will now be seeing one every six months to start with.
My new mantra before leaving the house now is: Sunscreen. Cap. Sunglasses. Repeat. Daily.
The fun in Cancer Land continues.
And what’s one more scar, right?
NOTE: For anyone interested, my tumor was removed using the Mohs surgery method, so check that out if you want to.
Have you ever had any sort of skin cancer or do you know someone who has?
Irregardless if you’ve had a cancer diagnosis or not, do you take more precautions regarding your sun exposure these days?