Monday, April 19, 2010

Freckle Recall

Today I learned that I have skin cancer which kind of makes your Monday really suck. Good news is it is a basal cell carcinoma which is the least invasive, dangerous type and recovery rates are very high. But this is happening quite fast. I went to the doctor on Friday; today is Monday and that one phone call from my doctor just shifted everything in my life.

I've always been good about medical screenings, and hit the doctor, eye doctor, dentist, acupuncturist, chiropractor and gynecologist on a regular basis. I get regular screenings for everything and ask my doctors lots of questions...but the dermatologist has never been on my list. Call it vanity, but up until about three years ago I never went to get my skin checked out. Considering my very fair skin, light blue eyes and propensity to burn you would think that skin care check ups would be top on my list. But, no they were not. And even when I went for the first time to the doctor, I did not have them conduct a skin cancer screening. Really. Friday was my first and only screening but surely not the last one.

It was vanity a few years ago when I took my first trip the dermatologist, and that same vanity (and a recent birthday) that made me finally schedule another visit. My primary goal was some prescription strength skin care drugs (hello Retina-A). And, on a whim I agreed to a skin cancer screening. Even after the doctor checked me over, I hesitated a bit and finally asked about one errant freckle on my chest. She didn't think anything of it, until I told her it was not there a few months ago. And then, she said she would take it off, just to be on the safe side.

That one little freckle that looked as if had been colored in by a dark brown pen turned out to be cancerous. The scary part is it does not look like any pictures I have ever seen of skin cancer, especially this type. Even the doctor passed it over at first. Truth be told, I've looked at that little guy for months...wondered why he did not look very familiar...but put it out of my mind. I've always been good about using sunscreen on my face, but I've been careless on my neck, back and chest. Now I know that this type of cancer is 100% preventable if you use (and reapply) sunscreen, and take care of your skin.

The universe must have been conspiring because suddenly in the last two weeks I felt very motivated to get an appointment, and have someone else confirm that this little spot was nothing. In my heart, I realize that the appointment for skin care was just a guise to put me face to face with someone who would look at this mark that stood out ever so slightly from the rest of my freckles. Now, I see it was a wise choice even if it makes me stare at marks on my body for days on end...examining each and every freckle.

Next week, I go in for further treatment. When my doctor described my options it was quite a blur. There was something about freezing and burning it off, which would lead to a scar; scooping out the tissue, which would leave a dent; using a cream for 2-3 months daily, which would cause a rash and general scaliness for the duration; or another type of excision which would require two layers of stitching. It seemed a lot to consider until she told me the success rates which ranged from about 80% to 97%. I'm going with the procedure boasting a 97% success rate...two layers of stitches, and a minimal scar.

I know this will not be the last step in this process, and the chance of finding another cancerous spot is quite high. But I do know that I will never go without sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and other protective items again. And you all should adopt the same practice!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ode to Walter

Yes, I know he's grown quite attached to me. And I fully acknowledge that I shouldn't be feeding him treats like bananas and tostada shells, but when he shows up and politely knocks on the door, who could really resist this guy?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

There was no room at the brunch table

Who knew that all of Austin was going to participate in celebrating my birthday week. All I know is that it was darn difficult to find a spot for a Sunday brunch for me and about a dozen or so friends. I went through four locations before finding one that was 1) open for regular business 2) available on Sunday and 3) had room for all of us. My favorite rejection was a polite but short note from one restaurant that said they were sorry but they did not have room for me. I wasn't sure if I should be offended, put off...or tickled by the fact that they could not accommodate all the potential merriment of my friends. All I know is that I did find a lovely spot that I think will be the perfect place for some relaxation, love and laughter.

On another note, April always seems to be the month of exceptions and indulgences for me. It's not that hard to twist my arm to splurge or indulge on many things, but boy-o-boy in April I take it to another extreme. Here we are, 7 days in...and this is my shopping spree so far:
  1. Four (oops...actually five) new pairs of shoes. Two fit into the sensible, gotta replace the old pair category. One...kind of fits there, but barely. And the other two really do hit the completely indulgent and unnecessary purchase, but I had to take them home with me.
  2. Two new bras and three sets of panties. Okay, these were technically necessary...but still felt fairly indulgent. If you see me in the near future...take a peek at how well the 'girls' are holding up.
  3. Completely indulgent and pricey skin care peel and exfoliation set from Sephora. I now own more make up and skin care product than I care to reveal...I think it's my new version of a crack-addiction.
  4. Do-hickey device that allows me to play my I-Pod while driving. Haven't quite mastered the knack of finding the clearest FM channel for it...simply because my drives have been so short lately, but I can't wait. One more way to play all my belly dance music (which by last count was close to 4,000 songs....).
  5. More make up from another online store...two types of powder, eyeliner and a fabulous eye brow stencil kit that makes me realize that one of my eye brows is crazily crooked!
  6. New tops...
  7. New swim suit
  8. Three new belly dance DVDs
  9. Three pots of herbs for the front porch, plus one big pot of strawberry plants to share with the birds and Walter the raccoon.
We won't count the new red velvet skirt that arrived at the end of last month...nor will we count any future belly dance purchases I have my eye on. What I will count on is a delightful month of indulgences, friends and celebration!