Public Service Message!

First off the crew report from YT50 is still coming as promised!  This blog is a public service message. That’s good right?

About 6 months ago I noticed an odd mark on my face. It kinda looked like a zit but it wouldn’t go away. I figured perhaps it was an odd red mole and ignored it. It started to itch a bit so I put zit cream on it and continued to ignore it. It began to bleed pretty much whenever I washed my face. I knew what this meant. I work in medicine.
What does a spot that itches and bleeds and doesn’t heal mean?

Skin cancer.

I was able to find a close-up of my mug I took while running. Nice sweaty photo! The circled spot is the 'weird spot'

I was able to find a close-up of my mug I took while running. Nice sweaty photo! The circled spot is the ‘weird spot’

I made an appointment with a dermatologist. Frankly I was bummed that this was on my face. Vanity. I was also ashamed that I was vain about it being on my face.

The spot was biopsied and I walked around with a little round bandaid on it.  I also had cryotherapy on some actinic keratosis that was on my cheek- a precancerous condition.

 

Biopsy bandaid, the red circle is where I had the cryotherapy for actinic keratosis.

Biopsy bandaid, the red circle is where I had the cryotherapy for actinic keratosis.

 

One week later, while at a poster presentation for a medical student program I was in charge of, I received a phone call- skin cancer, unclear margins…scheduled for Mohs blah blah blah.

What the heck is Mohs? I made the mistake of using the Google Machine and then started tearing up. THEY WERE GOING TO DESTROY MY FACE.  I frantically searched for a way out. I called back. Couldn’t I just let this go? “You’ll go blind” “It could spread into the nerves of your face or your eye or destroy your bone”  Oh. OK. So I should get rid of it.  I knew that, really but that vanity thing. It was my face. Shame on me. Guilt for the vanity. Google pictures.

I spent nights wondering what I was going to look like then berating myself for not being thankful that I wasn’t dying and only caring about my looks.

The day of the MOHS came.

Hubby had taken the day off to accompany me to the surgeon. I was taken back to sit in a reclining chair and my face was marked up with a dotted circle drawn around the biopsy site. Then a bunch of needles full of anesthesia were injected into my face. This was actually the worst part of the whole process. It burned and stung and made my eyes and nose run. OK, it just hurt. The part that made things not hurt just HURT. I mean seriously, they need to make a numbing process for the numbing process because OUCH.  Pretty soon I couldn’t really see out of my left eye and I couldn’t feel the left side of my face. “READY OR NOT CUT MY FACE!”

 

Circle and a bunch of needle pokes around biopsy site- before the cutting

Circle and a bunch of needle pokes around biopsy site- before the cutting

And they did. Chop chop! In Mohs, they cut out the cancer and then examine it to see if the margins are clear. If they aren’t they go back and cut some more…again and again until they have it all. This makes sure they don’t cut more (or less) then they need to.  When they are done cutting, they cauterize. This is gross. I saw smoke coming out of my face and could smell my flesh burning. If you’ve ever had to lay there and smell your human flesh burning…well it’s just gross. It’s unnerving to see smoke rising and smell yourself burning.

After it was all done, I had a hole in my cheek- SMALLER then I thought it would be. Much less than the Google told me it would be! I was so excited seeing the nasty bloody hole in my cheek! The surgeon I had was amazing. She carefully stitched me closed with tiny little stitches and BAM, I was done.

Look at the amazing stitch job my surgeon did!

Look at the amazing stitch job my surgeon did!

So why did I share all of this with you?

1.) After the procedure I wasn’t allowed to run until my stitches came out. >7 days.
2.) I’m now subject to Skin checks via a Derm every 3 months for 1 year, then every 6 months for 5 years. I have a 40% chance of another skin cancer (of any type) within the next 5 years.
3.) I want you to be aware of your skin. Check it. Use sunblock, wear a hat. Runners are out in the sun- protect yourself please. We can’t undo what’s done but we can protect ourselves now. Skin cancer doesn’t always look like “Google Images” If you have something odd, get it checked out.

I had MOHS 2 weeks ago and already my face is looking “pretty good.” I would put up a picture but I’m still under a bandaid and vain so nope. I promise though that it looks kinda like a weird red splotch with a red streak though it. It’s getting more pink than red and I can tell that within a few months it will be nice and faded. At some point, you won’t be able to tell I ever got chopped up. This is because I caught it early– had I not, I would have one of the Google Image Mohs Faces.

Check your skin. Protect your Skin. Please.

Public Service Message to my Running (and Non-Running) blog readers.

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3 thoughts on “Public Service Message!

  1. What a terrifying ordeal. I hope the worst is over and you won’t have a recurrence. And thank you for reminding us to protect our skin all year round (not just the summer) and to get checked regularly or if anything suspicious pops up. Good luck to you. And no worries about your face. You look fantastic.

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