Tuesday, August 30, 2016

" here i am, back on the road again. here i am,up on the stage....there i go, turn the page..." lyrics from "turn the page" by bob seger

yesterday was my birthday. i received a lot of birthday wishes on facebook from my family and friends. i feel very, very blessed to be here for another birthday and i am grateful for that. i spent this past weekend with all of my children and grandchildren. we had a great time panning for gem stones, watching the grandchildren frolic around  in the splash pools and doing their favorite thing- throwing rocks in the river. yesterday, i also received a few happy birthday phone calls which was nice. i did however receive a phone call that was not so nice. it was from my dermatologist. it seems that the place on my face  that i had removed about 10 days ago,  was indeed cancer. they scheduled an appointment for me  with the dermatologist in the practice( different doctor than mine )  who sometimes will take care of skin cancers. i am to see him on  september 7th. the nurse said that the second physician  needed to see it to evaluate if he could remove it, or would need to send me to a special dermatologist who is also a plastic surgeon. i  have heard that if i have to be referred to another plastic surgeon dermatologist, it would be one who works at baptist hospital, in winston-salem. i am just praying that the local dermatologist can do it.

the good news is that the cancer type is basal cell, which is the most common skin cancer. i was a little worried that it was squamous cell carcinoma- since i had one of those removed from my leg about four years ago. squamous cell is a more aggressive cancer, and can sometimes require extensive surgery and radiation. basal cell can rarely involve muscles, nerves or bones, but it is not likely to spread. if a person has had one skin cancer, they are likely to have another one. please remember this bit of information! in other words, check out any suspicious places on your skin. i really recommend that everyone  have a skin check, even if you have never had skin cancer, once a year or so.

so what causes skin cancer? exposure to UV light is a biggie. either by the sunlight or tanning beds. most of us did not wear sunscreen when we were younger. that damage can not be un-done. for the past several years, i have worn sunscreen, a hat when outdoors, and i try not to go outside during the hot part of the day ( about 12 to 4pm). another possible cause is a weakened immune system. BINGO! i think that is my problem. there is not very much a person can do about that except be diligent in checking your skin, and going to the dermatologist as early as possible if you notice anything strange.

my basal cell is between my nose and eye. a tender little area, with not much skin to work with. the type of surgery generally used to remove this is called the "Mohs" procedure. the doctor sort of scraps a little, stops and sends you out to the waiting area, checks for clear margins, and scrapes again as needed before stitching you up. this can take a while, as you might imagine, but it is a very effective procedure from what i have read.

i know that basal cell carcinoma is not as serious as squamous cell or especially melanoma. having this type of skin cancer is not nearly as bad as having thyroid cancer or breast cancer. it may be sort of a side effect ( weakened immune system) though, from having had  one or both. everyone is different, but what i noticed about my basal cell was a crusty little patch- sometimes red, sometimes oozing, that would sometimes be worse than other times. it would appear to go away, but then come back. i am not trying to gross anyone out, but i just would like for people to be aware of any skin changes, and to  please take these seriously!

so here i go, back on the road again, so to speak. as i said, basal cell carcinoma  pales compared to thyroid or breast cancer, but it is cancer, and it is troubling and aggravating. i will do what i need to do to take care of this, and i will move on. if i end up with a little scar on my face, i will just use the cliche, " you should have seen the other guy!".

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