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Monday, March 22, 2010

Pre-Mohs

Ever since I can remember, I've had moles all over my body. When I was younger, I thought that everyone probably had as many as me, although I've realized since then that this is not the case. When I was little, I used to try to figure out connecting patterns that would make shapes between my moles. I thought it was cool that I had "matching" moles on my feet.

I had my first mole removed when I was in junior high. It was a huge one on my head, under my hair, and having it off was hugely painful. Mole removal surgeries have come a long way since then, but I remember the dermatologist being freaked out because he'd never removed one from someone's scalp before. I had to have a shot in my head to numb it, and it hurt immensely. After removing the mole, the doctor realized that it was actually two separate moles that had grown together, thus its freakish appearance.

Also in junior high, I had to go in for a mole removal surgery. On that day, I had seven different moles removed. At that time, the doctor basically numbed the area and then went in and sliced them off, revealing the layers of fat under the skin, then stitched them up. By the time the day's proceedings were done, I had over a hundred stitches in my body and felt like I could barely move without painkillers. It left ugly scars that people still ask about whenever I wear a tank top or a bathing suit.

Since then, I've had more moles removed, bringing my grand total up to 15 or 16--even I have lost count. I've experienced every method of removal that has been developed over recent years, including both freezing and burning them off. All in all, I've become used to visiting the dermatologist, and mole removal has become no big thing to me. While I've had plenty that have looked scary over the years, we've caught them all in time and none have come back as cancerous.

Until last month. That was when I went to a new local dermatologist and he removed another mole from my head. Less than a week afterwards, I got a call from the office telling me that it had come back from the lab as a basal cell carcinoma. Translation: cancer. I'm 31 years old and have cancer.

Now, to be fair, if you have to have cancer, basal cell is by far the best kind to get. It doesn't spread to other parts of the body, and it's the least invasive kind. But once you find it once, it's likely to recur in other spots, so it becomes increasily important to get checked more and more frequently.

In my case, the labs revealed that the mole removal in the dermatologist's office had not gotten the entire cancerous spot. This means that I have to go in for Mohs surgery, where, in a nutshell, the doctor will remove my skin layer by layer, performing labs on each layer, until we get it all. Scheduling the surgery was a bit tricky, considering the whole childbirth thing in the middle. I'm particularly anxious about this surgery since the spot is on the front of my head, just under my hairline. I fear that I will be sporting a bald spot after the surgery, and my hair is definitely not long enough to hide that.

So my surgery is tomorrow morning. Ben's sister Jill and her husband Jim are here to watch the kids while Ben takes me to the surgery. I'm hoping that everything goes smoothly and it doesn't take too many rounds to get rid of it. After the surgery, I'll have to go back in for another examination of my other moles, as most were so stretched and swollen from 8 months of pregnancy that the doctor couldn't get a good feel for them before.

So, please wish me luck tomorrow. I know it's relatively silly to be scared about an outpatient procedure when I did 12 hours of labor and childbirth without an epidural a mere 3 weeks ago, but I'm still a little freaked out. I'll post again tomorrow to let everyone know how it goes.

11 comments:

SlyGly said...

I'm glad that this was discovered early. I hope it all goes smoothly.

Andrea said...

Hugs! I'll be thinking about you tomorrow. I hope everything goes smoothly and it's quick and painless as possible. Good luck sweetie!

SuperSillyAunt said...

I'll be praying for you. My dad has the same thing and has only had one malignant melanoma in many, many years. Which of course they caught and he's had no trouble since.

Ragfield said...

Yikes! Good luck with the surgery.

Christianne said...

We'll definitely be praying! Hope all goes well. I know you're anxious, but I'm sure it will feel good to just get it done and over with. Let us know if you need something!

Maria said...

Jason and I will be thinking and praying for you, Amy. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Maria said...

Jason and I will be praying for you from Chicago, Amy. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Cathy said...

Thinking of you and Praying for you.

Carrie said...

Oh, Amy. I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU GIRL. I have had moles removed since I was in jr. high too, and I have had several procedures performed as well. The scars that had stitches look like they have little hash marks through them, and I also have keloids on my back from when they just cut them out. In fact I just went to the dermatologist. on the 11th and had ANOTHER ONE removed. I too, can connect the dots on my arms and I am the one in the sun wearing an SPF of like 100 and a hat. I wish you the best of luck during surgery. I know people who have had this type of cancer and they are doing just fine...key is early detection and early removal and it sounds like you are getting that done. Next time I see you we should compare war wounds....

NAME: Caroline Not-in-the-City said...

prayers your way, gfriend!!!

Amy said...

Wow, you are really something to do all of this so soon after having Liam! I'd be overwhelmed as all get out! I had three moles removed in high school. The derm. cut them out so they could test them, and it left nice big scars on me. I agree that mole removal has probably come a long way. I feel like he could have done it without all of the scarring. Hope it all comes back okay!