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Another Cancer, Another Specialist, Another scar…

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:

Basal cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

Melanoma

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.

Not!!

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?

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skin-cancer-surgey
The post-Mohs surgery selfie.

 

post-mohs-surgery
Recovering with a kitty on your lap & a Starbucks coffee within reach always helps.

 

After Moh's surgery
Not pretty, but cancer never is.

 

My new mantra.
I will be doing these things from here on out. Image via Melanoma Research Alliance 

 

 

28 thoughts on “Another Cancer, Another Specialist, Another scar…

  1. I haven’t had a diagnosis of skin cancer but I do take precautions. Sunblock (organic, natural, non-toxic) every day; wear a hat that I bought for hiking that’s washable and has a wide brim all the way around; always sunglasses, just the smallest amount of glare bothers my eyes. The best suggestion being checked out by a dermatologist for peace of mind; this was covered by my insurance. There were some small moles I was concerned with but none of them were a concern so I’m good to go for another year.

  2. I’ve had seven basal cell carcinomas and one squamous cell. One basal cell and the squamous cell were where the sun doesn’t shine, so to speak. Interestingly, that particular basal cell was directly over the spot where my breast cancer was, but 15 years earlier (when the dermatologist saw it, he thought it was breast cancer). It makes you wonder …
    I’ve never really taken them seriously, just figured they were the consequence (for the most part) of a childhood spent on a sailboat during the summers.

    1. I didn’t mean to belittle your understandable distress, and I realize my comment could be taken that way. Since the breast cancer I am paranoid about every little thing. I think if I had another skin carcinoma at this point I would not be nearly as blasé about it. I hope your recovery goes well.

    2. Cathy, Interesting that you had your spot at same location as your breast cancer, but just a fluke I’m sure. I think a person does need to take basal cell cancers seriously. They can be problematic if left untreated, but I know what you mean, and that’s why I even hesitated to write this post. And yes, our childhood exposure sometimes catches up with us.

      1. Just an addendum – after the first few were detected and removed, I started seeing a dermatologist annually for a visual scan. The really positive thing about that was that last year when I had a weird outbreak of a skin condition near my lymph nodes on the cancer side (it looked like a lot of pictures of skin mets) I was able to get in and get a biopsy even more quickly than I could with my oncologist. That helped with the anxiety a bit.

        1. Cathy, Thank you for your additional comments. I didn’t mention it in my post, but I got in faster, too, for my initial appointment and then biopsy due to my medical history. I had no idea dermatologists were so busy. I wasn’t even nervous about this. I was too preoccupied with my dad.

  3. 4 yrs after first DCIS DX the mole that grew smack dab in the middle if the bridge of my nose (think wicked witch location) started to bleed. After months of dealing with it, I saw a dermatologist who eventually removed it with Mohs procedure. Margins were clear of the basal cell tumor. Months later a mosquito bite on my shin went “bad” and turned out to be sqamous cell. Not much flesh there and scar is very visible and 2 inches long. I’ve been tested and am NOT BRCA positive but I’ve had a second DX of DCIS since. Sigh. All my female relatives died of either colon, lung, or bone marrow cancers. I’ve outlived them now by a year (65 next month!) but I wonder what is going on with my family genes.
    At least my breast cancers and skin cancers have all been the “good” kind!

    1. Connie, Sorry to hear about your family members. And as for testing negative for brca, there are other gene mutations they look for sometimes. And yes, the “good” kinds. Ugh…Thank you for sharing.

  4. Glad you got it treated and that folks are helping with Starbucks. It does matter. I’ve seen a dermatologist a couple times after having bc. It’s probably nothing doesn’t really sit well anymore. Thanks for writing about your experience. Take Care.

  5. I have had basal cell twice, one by my collarbone and one on my back. I probably have one on my arm but neither the dermatologist nor I is eager to remove it since I have lymphedema there. As a former California girl, I’m sure it will show up on my face eventually. Both my parents have had MOHs procedures on their noses several times. I have been getting yearly skin checks since before BC. My skin is really aging.

    1. Jeannie, Guess you are all too familiar with this topic then. I don’t blame you for being hesitant to remove the cancer on your LE arm. Good for you for getting the yearly skin checks though. I guess you’re probably taking a lot of precautions, too, then. So important. More than many of us realize. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Effin cancer!!! Hate that you had to deal with that, but relieved at the type, I guess….feels so ironic to think it was the “good kind”…as if there is a “good kind” of any cancer. I have a mole on my leg I need to get checked out. And will be doing so when I get my physical. Thanks for sharing with us. Kitty & Starbucks FTW!! xx

    1. Kimberly, Yeah, effin cancer is right. Probably is a good idea for you to get that mole checked out. Better to be safe than sorry. And yes, a kitty and a Starbucks coffee work wonders. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  7. Hi Nancy,

    I’m sorry to hear about this new cancer shit storm. Any cancer is serious, and I wish medical providers would stop saying, “This is the kind to get.” Oy. Nevertheless, I’m glad you are healing well. I LOVE the picture of Ninja on your lap. Such a comforting feeling.

    Get well soon, and I’m going to take your advice and get to a dermatologist soon.

    1. Beth, Usually Ninja doesn’t sit with me, she prefers dear hubby, but pets seem to know when something’s up. They are comforting for sure. Thank you for your kind wishes and I’m glad to hear you’re going to see a dermatologist soon.

  8. Scary! I hope you’re feeling well Nancy. Even getting the kind of C that is less worrisome, it is still obviously a big deal, especially having gone through cancer before. After I had bc almost 5 years ago I became hyper aware about my skin as I live in a sunny place, am fair skinned and freckly. I’ve been checked but any form of cancer, any form at all has a psychological effect that cannot be denied. I wish you a speedy recovery both emotionally and physically.

    1. Alicia, Cancer is always a big deal and it definitely has a long-lasting psychological impact. You’re right about that. It’s good you’re being proactive with your skin health. Thank you for sharing and for your good wishes.

  9. Nancy, I can’t believe you’ve had to deal with this. Even though you’re okay and your life isn’t threatened, I can’t imagine after all you’ve been through having to hear those words again: You have cancer. But here you are. I’m glad you came through okay. “Still here” status in cancerland is a great place to be. Heal and be well soon.

    1. Eileen, Yes, here I am, here we are, right? “Still here” status is a great place to be for sure. Dear hubby and I sometimes joke around about my body being carved up and carved out in too many ways to count, but of course, it’s no joke, and we are both sick of cancer on so many levels and for so many reasons. Thank you for reading and for your good wishes. xx

  10. One thing upon another, right?!
    I was afraid to read this one–skin cancer is the one I figured I’d get, having already had some moles removed at a much younger age. I’m fair, I’m covered in freckles and moles, and I live at the beach. Talk about risk factors! I know over-diagnoses is the buzzword and cool concept right now in medicine, but I don’t think that should apply with skin cancers–not for me anyway.
    At any rate, good to know you are doing OK–just adding docs to your contact list–sigh. xo

    1. CC, I’m pretty fair-skinned as well, so I wasn’t entirely surprised, but like I wrote about, I thought it was the spot on my nose that was problematic. Sounds like you do have some risk factors, so be sure to wear your sun screen, sun glasses and hat my fair-skinned, ocean-side residing friend. 🙂 Thank you for reading and sharing.

  11. This is a question related to AI etc. I cannot take tam or letrozole, so today my onc gave me aramasin. I asked questions, he said ‘they are all the same,’ as he left the room. Useless he is. Anybody take it? I am in the process of working up the courage to take the first one. (anaphylaxis with the others)

    1. Anne, I am taking Aromasin. Doing okay on it. Some issues, but way better for me than Arimidex was. But of course, we are all unique in how we tolerate these drugs. Good luck to you.

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