Saturday, October 1, 2011

Facing Cancer

I didn't think you'd be interested in hearing about my routine dermatology visit last week, even though the doctor did two scrapings of spots on my face that he deemed suspicious. I haven't been to a dermatologist in three years, which is way t0o long for someone who's had leukemia. Leukemia survivors are prone to developing secondary cancers, and the skin is particularly vulnerable. Two spots that I had thought to be questionable the doctor said were fine. The spots he was concerned with had been dismissed by my oncologist as gvh and a "burn" spot from chemo/radiation treatments.

One thing I've always been thankful for is that my skin gvh has left my face more or less alone. The very first presentation was on my face, but after my Boston doctor upped my prednisone, it went away and never came back. When I left the dermatologist's office, I had two small band-aids on the scraped areas. When I removed them the next day, they were raw and ugly. Both have healed nicely though, the larger spot looking like a mole, but shrinking every day.

The dermatologist called yesterday with the biopsy results. The larger spot (thought to be gvh) is a basal cell carcinoma; the smaller, melanoma.

Back in the good old days, before cancer walked in the door, I'd had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my shoulder. My dermatologist at the time calmed any fears I was having (I had a few) and assured me that this wasn't going to kill me. When I received my leukemia diagnosis, I was too stunned to feel much fear. The real fear came when I was told I'd relapsed.

So the cancer on my face is more of an annoyance than anything else. Even the melanoma is very fresh and once removed, will be gone for good. I'm not looking forward to having surgery on my face, only because I'm vain. My dermatologist assures me that the surgery I will have, called Mohs surgery, works very well on the face because they shave thin layers off and get the biopsy results back almost immediately. They cut and biopsy until there are no cancerous cells, which means less tissue is lost.

I meet with the surgeon this week. My feelings are mixed on this newest health blip. If nothing else was wrong with me, I'd just chalk it up to something most of us will face as we age, another chink in the armor. My armor is in shreds.

Visit your dermatologist once a year for routine check ups. If you suspect something, don't wait for that yearly screening.Just go.


Ronni Gordon said...

Once again, we are sharing some of the same delightful stuff.

You might remember that I had a squamous cell on my forehead last year.

Now I have something similar right next to my tear duct and will need to have it removed in two weeks by an eye surgeon.

These things are very annoying, but compared to the Big Thing, they are inconsequential. Haven't even gotten around to blogging about it yet!

Sue said...

I'll second your advice on an annual dermatologist visit.

Hopefully, it's a quick scrape and a freeze or whatever they do to get rid of the spots.