My Skin Cancer Was Discovered by Accident
I have never been a sun lover as such, but evidently when I was diagnosed with skin cancer it quite probably happened because of sun damage from years ago. There was one time when it was not even sunny and I was relaxing whilst my husband was fishing. It was not very sunny, cloudy in fact, and the wind was quite cold. By the time I returned home that evening I had severe sun burn, and ended up in ER.
How my Skin Cancer Was Discovered
Evidently it’s quite common for a lot of our serious health issues to be discovered quite by accident.
In 2007 I had been back and forth to my family doctor with low back pain. My doctor wanted to investigate this thoroughly due to the fact I was a two time cancer survivor and ultimately they would be looking for bone cancer. But, my doctor was diligent and started with less invasive tests to determine whether the back pain was caused by something other than Cancer. One of the reasons we went this route is it takes a while to get an appointment for a bone scan so we decided to look into other tests whilst we waited. Also, 2007 was one of my busiest years for my business and I was travelling a lot around the World speaking.
Late 2007 I woke up one Sunday morning and thought I was going to die, and I know that sounds dramatic but quite honestly that is how I felt.
My husband drove me to the ER and by the end of the day I was in and out of consciousness and the doctor on duty did think my Cancer had returned.
At last the tests came back and the doctor in duty in ER gave me the good news, which was good because I was alive and my condition was treatable, but bad because I had almost died!
I had almost died from a severe kidney infection which afterwards we all realised had been rearing it’s ugly head for months, by sharing some symptoms with me, but not enough to actually diagnose this was happening.
Whilst in The Hospital
I was in ER overnight, but before I could leave the new doctor who had come on duty in the morning asked me if the spot on the bridge of my nose had been there long. I replied, yes, but I kept on picking it thinking it was a spot that would not go away. The doctor asked me if the spot bled and then scabbed over, so I replied yes. He then suggested that I make an appointment with a Dermatologist because he had a suspicion my spot could be skin cancer!
Two Weeks Later
After two weeks bed rest to recover from the kidney infection my husband drove me to the Dermatologist who took one look at the spot on my nose and said he was 99% sure it was a form of skin cancer. He asked me not to worry and if he could do a biopsy there and then to determine if it was skin cancer and if so what kind of skin cancer.
I was not expecting what happened next but it was the best thing, even though it was a shock.
He froze the bridge of my nose and he then cut out a huge tumour that had been growing there for quite some years. He told me he thought it was an invasive skin cancer that could have spread across my face and disfigured me. But to be sure he wanted to send the tumour away to be test. Knowing it was probably not the skin cancer that kills.
After two weeks of feeling scared and not wanting to leave the house because where the doctor had cut out my skin cancer my nose looked one big bloody mess with stitches, I got the results of my biopsy.
Below you can see the result of the doctor cutting out the tumour. I must warn you it’s not a great look.
Basal Cell Carcinomas
I was very lucky, the type of skin cancer I had was the most common type of skin cancer. About 8 out of 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas (also called basal cell cancers). When seen under a microscope, the cells in these cancers look like cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cancers usually develop on sun-exposed areas, especially the head and neck. These cancers tend to grow slowly. If a basal cell cancer is left untreated, it can grow into nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin. If not removed completely, basal cell carcinoma can recur (come back) in the same place on the skin. People who have had basal cell skin cancers are also more likely to get new ones in other places. I have to visit my doctor once a year to ensure no new skin cancer cells are growing, and now and then he has to freeze the area where new calls can be seen to kill them, kind of like burning them away I guess.
This is the more serious type of skin cancer and should be treated immediately. For very early-stage melanoma located at the site where it started, 5-year survivalis over 98%. Survival for melanoma that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes is 62%. If melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, survival is 18%. Wikipedia.
Early Detection is Key
Protect your skin from the sun, do not use tanning beds, and use sun screen at all times, even in the winter. Covering up when in the sun, wearing a hat and sunglasses is also the best way to protect yourself.
I have my annual visit with my doctor in a couple of weeks and I now share awareness about skin cancer because of my experience. Many people do not believe sun damage can cause such health challenges that are very serious and can kill if left untreated.