No joke

Listen up, boys and girls. Skin cancer is real. Your parents weren’t just trying to control you when they told you to apply sunscreen.

A few days ago, I had basal cell carcinoma removed from my nose. (I’ve had BCC removed from my face before, just a few bumps, and I’d have to point out the scar for you to notice it.)

I had had a small bump on my nose for a very long time. It was sort of like a pimple, but it was easily irritated and sometimes bled. Since I’ve been kinda busy the last three years surviving leukemia, I just thought of the annoying spot as a cosmetic issue. It was only at the urging of my stem cell doctors that I got it checked out.

The biopsy last month determined that it was “only” basal cell carcinoma, and not deep, so not life-threatening. The surgeon even suggested that I postpone the procedure while I was still fatigued from the latest virus. I scheduled the appointment for several weeks later so that I could attend the WiVLA opening reception without a patch on my nose.

The area that needed to be removed was larger than doctors originally thought. It turned out to be 2.5 cm by 1.5 cm–about 1 inch by 0.6 inch. Dr. MacFarlane thinks it had been growing for a very long time.

In a Mohs procedure, named after the surgeon who came up with the idea, the doctor removes what they think is the full area of cancer, and while the patient waits, they look at it under the microscope to see if they got clean edges. If not, they come back for more. Each round takes about an hour. I had five rounds, then a skin graft. I was there from 8:00 to 6:00, the last patient out.

I had many stitches. The skin graft came from an area just in front of my right ear. The graft and the stitches definitely give a Frankenstein’s-monster kind of impression.

It seems to be healing well so far. I can already tell that the scar in front of my ear will disappear pretty quickly. The skin on my nose may never look quite right again. But I have fully functional nostrils and sinuses. It could be worse.

I’ve had no pain. My only complaints are that I have to sleep propped up, head forward, which means I don’t sleep a lot; and I have to change the bandage once a day, so I have to look at my nose. {shudder}

I took this selfie after the first cut.

Me after Mohs round 1
Me after the first cut

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