My twitter followers already know about this (thanks for the notes of support, folks!), but here’s the full story.
For a few months, a light coloured, flat mole on my back had been slightly bothering me. It would scab over and itch. The first couple of times, I thought I might have knocked it, but after a while, I realised that it was doing it all on its lonesome. Everyone knows that scabbing and itchy moles are No Good.
I had a punch biopsy (Ouch! Who makes up these names?! Why not ‘candy biopsy’ or ‘fluffy bunny biopsy’?!), and sure enough, it was a spreading basal cell carcinoma. Not a melanoma, which is the serious kind of skin cancer… if you are going to have a skin cancer, a non-melanoma one is the cancer of choice.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010), over 1850 Australians die from skin cancer every year. About two thirds of Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, with the risk being higher in men (2 in 3) than women (3 in 5). *
In the United States, more than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found annually. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounted for about 68,130 cases of skin cancer in the US in 2010. **
Caught early, it is easily treatable and non-melanoma skin cancer (like the one I had) rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Personally, I grew up before the era of skin cancer awareness, summers were spent on the beach slathered in baby oil (baby oil!) with a steely determination to ‘get brown’, and I did… brown and burnt and brown and burnt etc, summer after summer. Photos of me in those days have me super tanned in little bikinis. I doubt that there is anyone of my generation who doesn’t know someone who has had skin cancer.
Nearly two weeks ago, I had the mole, and quite the chunk of skin around it, removed (since the cancer spreads, the objective is to ensure you cut out enough surrounding tissue to leave no cancerous cells). Four internal stitches and five external stitches later, I was done.
Today, I had the stitches out and got the results of the pathology tests that check that all of the cancer has been removed. It was all clear.
Funnily, while I was not worried, I bounced out of the appointment feeling much lighter and happier. I had been carrying around testy irritation this last week for no good reason that I could discern. I realise now that THAT was the reason.
So yeah, fuck you traitorous cancer mole!!!
Delighted o hear that you have got the all-clear and just goes to show how important it is to check-out any moles behaving strangely. i too recall the days of hawaii factor 2 suntan oil that blinded you as it streamed into your eyes as you fried your body in the midday heat. Little did i, or my parents, know that it wasn't perhaps the best thing a teenage kid should be doing.
Glad you ok
Happy_pet: Delighted o hear that you have got the all-clear and just goes to show how important it is to check-out any moles behaving strangely.
Thank you, and yes, this has been a Public Service Announcement!!
“i too recall the days of hawaii factor 2 suntan oil that blinded you as it streamed into your eyes as you fried your body in the midday heat.”
*laugh* Yes! God, Hawaii factor 2, I remember that too. I was probably too cheap to buy it, and you know, factor 2 will interfere with the browning!!
Yay – that's great news. You brightened up my morning all the way over in the UK. It's sunny out – might put on some sun cream after that…
Glad to hear all is well and isn't it interesting how stress sneaks up? Glad you are feeling better all around and have good news.
Congratulations with this result.
End 2010 I had melanoma on the tip of my nose. It was discovered by accident when I went to my dermatologist for something else. Fortunately it was completely removed. I still am treated by a nice oedema therapist.
So I understand your relief.
* glares at you* How DARE you not tell me! * hugs you tight* I am super duper glad it was all ok though
J: “Yay – that's great news. You brightened up my morning all the way over in the UK.”
Thanks, J, and yay for brightening up your day too!
“It's sunny out – might put on some sun cream after that…”
Yes, *not* baby oil… it is easy to get confused…
As a note, I recently saw someone say that they had an SPF100 sunscreen! I haven't done any proper research on this, but did find this article:
According to Florida dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) spokesman James M. Spencer, MD, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays, an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays, and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.
“After that, it just gets silly,” he says.
I need to take a closer look at that (in Australia, SPF only goes up to “30+”, in the EU “50+”, and I think in the US, they can SPF up to whatever they want).
dishevelleddomina: “Glad to hear all is well and isn't it interesting how stress sneaks up?”
Thank you! And yes, the sneaky buggar wormed its way into my brain without me even realising!
appy: “Congratulations with this result.”
“End 2010 I had melanoma on the tip of my nose… Fortunately it was completely removed.”
Oh, gosh, scary! I am so glad to hear that it was completely removed! I am planning to have a full body check soon, I expect that many (most?) skin cancers go completely undetected for a long time.
Coug: “How DARE you not tell me!”
*smile* Well, I knew you'd just sit at home all day and fret!
“I am super duper glad it was all ok though”
Thank you, me too!
A big fuck you to cancer across the board. I'm sure just hearing the c word was stressy enough, we all have someone close that suffers by it or has passed on. Any defeat of the big C is cause for celebration in my book!!! Bravo!!! Now join the rest of us and go buy some SPF 60! Pastey white is the new tan!
Pretty much everyone of us who grew up before sunscreens has some basal cell someplace on their body. Most folks just don't know it yet. I had one on my leg and one on my ear removed this year. The leg wasn't bad. The litte bastard on my ear was painful.
Good for you.
I've had 2 of them myself. One on my face, under my eye and another on my inner thigh 15 years later (which was strange since that isn't the place that gets a lot of sun).
Keep an eye out as once you get one, you will probably find more. In the end, while not pleasant – they are not life threatening most of the time.
I have been following this since I first heard about it on Twitter and I am so pleased and relieved that it's all over and you are on the road to recovery. … Stay well!!! ~hug~
Fuck you mole indeed! So glad the margins were clear!
Given the capstone of college was my '2nd best tan award' and I spent my summers with oil on, I'm in deep shit.
Hope you are finding all sorts of ways to celebrate! ;)
Oh no! But so glad to hear all is ok.
Hey Ferns, I am pleased to know it is all ok. I have a BCC on the side of my nose and a scaly bit to come off also. Both on the right side of my face. Dr said it was related to my job and lots of driving in Aus where we have right hand drive cars.
SLip Slap Slop!
“Photos of me in those days have me super tanned in little bikinis.”
And thus Brids' mind wanders and completely forgets what he was reading…>.>
I'm seriously glad that everything turned out well for ya
Thanks everyone for sharing the 'phew' with me, I appreciate the kind thoughts.
It's funny, while I wasn't worried really given this kind of cancer is localised and really only problematic if you let it go *forever* (there are some horrific pictures of it if left untreated on the internet, which truly makes me wonder how people can just ignore it for so long *shudder*!), the relief I felt at the 'all clear' was palpable.
I just want to share another “phew”.
Ah. Just noticed this. The new graph porn is nice, but this post is far more important. I'm glad to hear the “unwanted companion” is gone. This has been on my mind for a while and I was concerned, despite the fact you pouted only marginally. That sucker is gone and you're one-hundred percent okay. Yay! This is exactly what I was hoping for you. :-)
N, Elan: Thank you both for your very welcome good wishes! *smile*
I just discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much!
I'm sorry you had to have skin cancer. I had a melanoma removed from my stomach last July. One year cancer free! It was scary to go through, and getting those stitches out sure was a relief.
I identified with you about the burned and bikini look. Having mine on the stomach usually gives people pause, and I explain it was from bikinis. I guess most people end up with them on noses, foreheads and arms.
Again, I'm glad you're all clear, and here's to hoping no more pop up!
Anonymous: “I had a melanoma removed from my stomach last July. One year cancer free!”
Oh, relief! Congratulations.
“Again, I'm glad you're all clear, and here's to hoping no more pop up!”
Thanks, me too! Though frankly, I expect more. If I don't get any on my face, I will consider myself lucky.
For my own amusement, I have to add that I left my last comment partially visible on screen while I wandered off to do something else.
When I returned, I just read this part:
If I don't get any on my face, I will consider myself lucky.
And for a second I though… “WTF was I talking about THAT for?!!!!” Bwuahahahahaha!
For the record, if I get any on my face, I'm ok with that.
I need more coffee…