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!

1 responses:

Team Serrins Springfield said...

Chris - Wow! How very scary. I'm glad you got to the doctor and got an answer. 97% sounds pretty darn good to me and I think I'm like you - I'd go with the highest percentage treatment I could get. Let me know if you need anything and I'll try to remember to wear my cowboy hat more.