Not what I expected when the phone rang. It was a routine dermatology appointment.
"Do you have any concerns?"
“Yes, a small spot on my face. It comes and goes. Two weeks ago it had disappeared (again). So I'm actually glad that it’s back.”
It was the size of a pin head. It was teeny tiny. A nuisance, but not something that really seemed to bother me.
“I suspect that it’s skin cancer.”
“So, we just burn if off, right?”
“No, it needs to be cut out and sent to the lab.”
I was not prepared for this. It’s on my lip! She’s going to cut a hole in my lip! She warns me that the shot is going to hurt and possibly a lot. She tells me this several times. (I’m thinking surely it can’t be that bad.)
I was wrong.
I’m creeped out at the thoughts of her taking a chunk off of my face at the top of my lip. I’m even more creeped out as she tells me she’s going to burn it to stop the bleeding. Time and time again I hear the sizzle and the smell is nauseating. I’m trying to remain calm and tell myself that surely it will stop. Eventually she stopped and put a bandaid on.
I left the dermatology office swollen and a little dazed as a I was given a wound care sheet. A wound care sheet? I have to clean it out with peroxide, put ointment on it and keep it covered to try to help with healing and scarring. What I thought was a routine visit turned into me having a chunk about the size of my little finger taken out of my face.
Fast forward 4 days when I get the call….
“This is Dr. ______, I’m calling with your test results. It is cancer. It’s basal cell carcinoma. I believe that we hopefully caught it in its early stage.”
“Ok (not surprised and not concerned), so we got it all?” (I mean the spot was tiny. The still swollen hole in my lip is huge. I had zero concerns or doubts that she did not get it all. I mean she had to with the amount of tissue that she took out.)
“No, have you ever heard of Mohs surgery?”)
Massive groan from me… and I can feel panic and tears rising… “You’ve got to be kidding me. Yes, I am familiar with Mohs surgery. I need more cut out. It’s my face…. My lip…"
“I just can’t believe that I need more cut off.”
“Yes, it’s cancer, and they need to take more tissue. I’m referring you to…… they will call you within 11 days to set up surgery. Surgery will take at least 2 hours. They are booking about a month out….. )
At this point I’m just writing down details and trying to process what is being told to me.
Shocked. Is this what shock feels like? This can’t be real. I mean it was so tiny. I can’t believe that I've got to have my face cut open and stitched. How long has it been growing? How deep is it? I’m still swollen from what happened before. My lip is all tingly and weird feeling and I look like I've been punched. How bad is it going to be after surgery? Stitches in my lip?
Tears…. followed by informing my husband what the dr just told me… tears… call my mom… tell her….. more tears… inform friends.. more tears… I cried for hours non stop. And still at times I get overwhelmed and cry some more.
As I write this, I’m waiting for the medical center to call and set up surgery….
scared of the pain of the surgery
scared of the healing process
scared of trying to take care of stitches/wound care
scared of scarring
scared it’s spread more than they thought
scared this is the beginning of a journey that I would rather not take…..
So many things that I can not control….
It’s ok to be upset. It’s ok to feel emotion. It’s ok to feel scared or even a little angry. It’s ok. Feel all the feels… then deal.
To be continued…
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