WARNING: Blog contains images some may find disturbing.
Summers and winters of sunny days past, spent on the water and snow, have finally caught up to me. I spent this summer recovering from plastic surgery due to Basal Cell Carcinoma skin cancer.
Not to be confused with the Basil Cell Carcinoma my son Jordan, owner of Frahm to Table, named his basil microgreen tray. His mom and her tumor — may it Rest In Peace and NEVER return — were honored!
Unlike my health-conscious children, I hail from the baby oil and iodine decade. In my twenties, my own social consciousness was more about being thin and tan. Growing up within driving distance to Pensacola Beach meant trying to become both by Easter.
I recall laying out between the sand dunes, covered in goosebumps. With my blue eyes and fair complexion, suntan oil was a prerequisite course for sunburn.
|Right before Mohs surgery. It's|
hard to detect any pimple.
The hope was that my dermatologist could remove and repair it via Mohs surgery.
Unfortunately, it was deeper and more invasive than expected. My dermatologist advised me that my earlier precancerous diagnosis had been inaccurate. It had been cancer all along despite the pathology report saying otherwise.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the least dangerous of skin cancers. It's seldom life-threatening and easily cured when caught early. The worst thing about my diagnosis was that it occurred on my face — my nose to be exact.
|After Mohs surgery.|
I met with a plastic surgeon. He informed me that the nose is expensive real estate. Not just from a monetary perspective! Let’s face it —the late Michael Jackson had plenty of money, but it appeared his nose couldn’t be fixed.
On June 18th I went in for reconstructive surgery. Before the procedure, my surgeon briefed us on the two options that he could use to repair my nose. One of them would require additional surgery. I got lucky, and he was able to go with the procedure that only requires one surgery.
According to my healthcare providers, it will take 6–12 months for my nose to completely recover. Or for me to look and feel like normal again.
Perhaps it’s my age — I’ll be 60 in December — or my history with a breast cancer diagnosis, but I haven't been as upset as I know from my google searches that a lot of women are. Most likely it’s due to the attitude of my immediate family. Our awesome morbid humor.
When my son Jordan saw the stitches, he said I was going to have one badass scar. He was thrilled for me. LOL
|Less than a month after surgery.|
Lucky for me, my plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Fowler doesn’t share my son’s enthusiasm for scars. It hasn't even been a month yet, and there’s already been a significant improvement.
Regardless, this is not something I would want anyone I care about to have to go through. Which is why I wrote this blog, and am sharing my photos.
There are at least two things I got right as a parent. I gave up soft drinks for water, and I slathered sunscreen on my kids when they were small. Unlike her mom, my daughter Tabitha has never laid out in the sun to get a tan. Her skin reflects it.
Some of my takeaways regarding skin cancer:
1. If that voice inside yourself is telling you something isn’t right — like a pimple that
doesn’t heal — pay attention. Always trust your own intuition when it comes to your body!
I learned this lesson at age 34 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years later a mole on my abdomen just didn't look right to me. The dermatologist I was seeing then told me it was nothing. Another doctor removed it anyway as he knew I was worried about it. The mole was pre-cancerous.
2. If you freckle easily, work or play in the sun, have reached a certain age — see a
dermatologist once a year for a full-body wellness check.
Maybe that picture of the side of my nose removed will help motivate!
3. Research doctors/dermatologists/surgeons and the procedure you're being told you need.
On my way home from the hospital, a FB post regarding Mohs surgery caught my attention. One of my FB friends was furious. Without her knowing, her elderly mom had been talked into what should have been an elective Mohs surgery. At her advanced age, her mom could have done without it. To make it worse her doctor had botched the procedure.
4. Try not to feel guilty about your cancer diagnosis.
There will always be that certain individual who likes to make themselves feel better by making you feel worse. Maybe you didn’t do all you could have to prevent cancer, but you didn’t try to cause it either.
5. EAT some cancer-preventing microgreens! #preventativemedicine