I’m a little late with this. Here’s how my head saga ends. Ten days after my Mohs procedure, I returned to the doctor to have the staples removed. There were 38. I asked if they were going to numb my head and the nurse said it wouldn’t hurt. She was right except for a couple where the skin had started to grow over them. The doctor came in and checked the wound and said it was looking great. He wanted to see me in a month and in the meantime I was to continue to wash it daily and keep it moist with petroleum jelly. I did and since I had to wear a bandage, I wore hats to work. Although it was nice not to have to style my hair, wearing hats became tiresome.
When I returned for my next visit, the doctor said the wound was healing really well and fast. He had to remove a few hairs that were embedded in the new tissue. That hurt more than the staples. I was given a prescription for cream to put on the wound twice a day for a week and released. Yep, the surgeon didn’t need to see me again unless there was a problem. He said to follow-up with my regular dermatologist. I followed the instructions and continued to wear a hat while using the cream. Now I am able to go without a hat and my hair has grown long enough for a comb-over. But, I gladly show it to anyone who asks. I want everyone to be aware of what could happen from too much sun exposure.
I was never a sun worshiper. Laying around sweating to get a tan wasn’t my thing. So I was very surprised the first time I was diagnosed with skin cancer at age 27. Luckily, it wasn’t Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. My skin cancer was Basal Cell Carcinoma. BCCs are slow-growing. The doctor told me it was probably from sun exposure when I was a child. When I was little, not as much was known about skin cancer. Blue, green or gray eyed, fair-complexioned children are more at risk, but all children should wear sun screen and hats when playing in the sun.
My first BCC was on my back and grew quite large. I had always had a mole there. I used to rub it subconsciously, like people who play with their hair. One day I noticed that it was larger than it used to be so I asked my gynecologist to look at it during my normal yearly exam. He said I should see a dermatologist and recommended one. I called the next day to make an appointment, but the recommended doctor was on vacation. The receptionist asked who had recommended me and I replied “My gynecologist.” She said the associate could see me and she was female so I would probably feel more comfortable any way. I mentioned to Paul later what the receptionist had said and added “Why would she think I would be more comfortable with a woman?” Paul said, “Think about it, Sharon. Your gynecologist recommended you.” I was so naïve in my younger years.
When I arrived, I explained to the dermatologist that I had the mole for as long as I could remember, but that it was larger than it used to be. She looked at it and said, “I want to remove that; do you have time?” I said “Today?” She said “Yes, we really need to get it analyzed.” So, I agreed and she removed the entire mole in the office and sent it for a biopsy. I was familiar with Melanoma and moles because I had a sister-in-law who died five years after having a mole removed. The Melanoma had spread to her brain. I expressed my concern to the doctor and she said I shouldn’t worry, it was probably a more common, less dangerous form of skin cancer or nothing at all.
A couple of weeks later, I was visiting my mom at her house when I was surprised by a call from the doctor. She said she had called my house and Paul told her where I was and gave her the number (no cell phones back then). She said the cancer was basal cell and that she had gotten all of it, but I needed to come back in so she could examine me all over for any other suspicious moles or lesions. Wasn’t that nice of her to call on a Friday night. Now remember, she had told me on that day not to worry, it was probably nothing. When I arrived for my follow-up and checked in, the receptionist said “Dr. *** was so excited when she got the results of the biopsy, she was so worried.” After a thorough exam, she even used a hair dryer to blow my hair so she could see my scalp, I was pronounced suspicious spot free.
Continue reading “A Hole in My Head”